Which Repugnican presidential candidate will be getting 23 free hour-long ads per week on national TV for the rest of the campaign?
If you guessed "Fred Dalton Thompson," you'd be right!
According to the Aug. 30 Broadcasting & Cable
news site, "Now that Law & Order
co-star Fred Thompson has signaled his plans to announce his presidential candidacy on Sept. 6, TNT, which airs voluminous repeats of the show, tells B&C
in an e-mailed statement that it has 'no plans to alter its programming schedule.'"
NBC, on the other hand, where Law & Order
originates, said it wouldn't air any Law & Order
repeats with Thompson in them after he announced his candidacy, which Thompson did Thursday night on The Tonight Show
TNT probably pays a bundle to exclusively rerun all those Law & Order
shows, and cutting the five years (116 episodes) during which Thompson starred as NYC District Attorney Arthur Branch might significantly detract from the station's profitability - but if they don't, TNT might just be breaking the law.
"Thompson's candidacy, when it becomes official, will trigger the FCC's equal-time rule," wrote B&C
's John Eggerton and Marisa Guthrie, "which requires stations or cable operators that air appearances of federal candidates - even in an entertainment context - to provide equal time to other qualified candidates. Broadcast and cable networks are not subject to the requirement, but TV stations are."
That should mean that Time Warner Cable, which supplies TNT to its subscribers in Porn Valley, will be in violation of FCC rules if it doesn't black out TNT's Law & Order
programming that includes Thompson, and NBC, which owns the Sleuth network, (and Time Warner) had better take care also to avoid airing the handful of Homicide: Life On The Street
episodes in which Thompson appears.
It'll be interesting to see how TNT and the FCC work out this little problem.