If Fred Thompson, the one-time Tennessee senator better known to most Americans as district attorney Arthur Branch on “Law & Order,” runs for president, some of his fans may be in for a letdown. Television stations are expected to drop reruns of the show temporarily if he makes a real-life bid for the White House.
Does that would mean that NBC would have to actually come up with something new?
There is good news for “Law & Order” fans. The FCC rules have never been applied to cable stations, though several legal experts said cable stations often abide by an equal time guideline in the hopes of avoiding a legal case that would set a precedent.
That’s ok, TNT needs to show something else once in a while anyway. Although, Mr. Ol’ Broad might be at a loss at what to watch when nothing else is winding his watch.
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.
That could get a little tricky.
But even if Thompson announces that he’s getting in the race, the equal time provisions — and the blackout for the reruns — would not immediately kick in. The law only applies to candidates whose names appear on official state ballots, at step that none of the candidates have yet taken.
It sure would be nice if the evening “news” had to give equal time once in a while too.