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These are their stories, but only the ones without presidential candidates…chunk-chunk!

LandO.jpgThere’s a federal campaign broadcasting regulation referred to as the “equal time” rule which basically says all of the “free” television networks have to give equal time to all political candidates. This doesn’t count for appearances on the news, or in interviews or documentaries. But if I’m NBC and I sell Hillary a 30-second spot, I have to also sell a 30-second spot to Obama and any other political opponents that come a-knocking.

thomps.jpgBut in an interesting application of this rule, NBC may suddenly find itself putting a big hunk of “Law & Order” reruns on the backburner because of this rule. It’s widely speculated that former Tennessee senator Fred Thompson may take a run at the Republican nomination. If you don’t know his name, he’s the guy here on the right. Anyway, Thompson has a pretty extensive acting resume, and while I’ll always remember him most as the as the head of air traffic control in Die Hard 2, most folks know him from his extensive face-time on the “Law & Order” franchises. Between the original “L&O,” along with “Special Victims Unit” and “Criminal Intent,” Thompson has appeared as District Attorney Arthur Branch in 122 episodes, dating back to 2002, when he started the role on “Law & Order”. And since the “equal time” rule applies to entertainment programs, NBC could find itself owing Republicans a lot of air time if it airs Dalton’s “L&O” episodes:

“As a practical matter, [the television stations] would in all likelihood have to pull all of the Fred Thompson shows for the duration of his candidacy,” said Andrew Jay Schwartzmann, president of the Media Access Project.

However, this rule has never been applied apply to any cable station, so in theory, it shouldn’t effect the bajillion “Law & Order” reruns on TNT. However, a political rival could try to get equal time on TNT:

To do that, the other candidates would have to monitor each of Thompson’s appearances, count the minutes he appeared, and then request equal time within seven days of each episode. Only the actual time that Thompson actually appears in each episode is counted, legal experts said.

Thompson has some solid fans among the more conservative wing of the Republicans, and he’s already posting poll numbers despite not even being in the race. So it shouldn’t come as any surprise if Thompson winds up in the race, forcing NBC to dig into its pre-2002 “L&O” coffers. Of course, that may be for the best, since we all know the show was at its strongest in the mid-90s. More Lenny Briscoe is never a bad thing!

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Comments

Never posted here before, but I just had to comment.

More Lenny Briscoe is never a bad thing!

YES. :D I am all for the Briscoe love.

My favorite Thompson role was the Admiral in Hunt For Red October...

"A Russian don't take a dump son without a plan."

What if they play a Fred Thompson episode and follow it with the episode that Giuliani was on?