NBC Affiliates Providing Equal Time to GOP Candidates

NBC affiliates have begun offering up time to the Republican candidates who asked for it after GOP front-runner Donald Trump hosted Saturday Night Live.

An NBC source speaking on background said the time would be divvied up over 18 NBC affiliate stations in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, using both network commercial and promotional time in primetime hours on Nov. 27 and 28, as well as during SNL on Nov. 28.

NBC stations filed their notice of the appearance on Nov. 9, which gave candidates seven days to make their requests.

The obligation is on the stations, not on NBC or SNL, to provide the time.

John Kasich, Lindsey Graham, Mike Huckabee and James Gilmore all sought equal time (actually it is under the FCC's equal opportunities rule) on stations that carried the show, per FCC rules that require stations that air non-news appearances by candidates to offer the equivalent time to their opponents.

A candidate seeking the time has to make a showing that the candidate who got the time—in this case Trump, is a legally qualified candidate per a multi-part FCC test. Once a candidate meets that test in 10 states they are considered a national candidate and stations in every state are in play. Until then, only the stations in states where a candidate is legally qualified has to provide the time upon that showing.

"In compliance with FCC regulations, NBC has come to an agreement with John Kasich, Mike Huckabee, James Gilmore and Lindsey Graham on each candidate’s equal time requests following Donald Trump’s appearance on SNL on Nov. 7," a spokesman confirmed.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.