Tuesday, October 13, 2015

UPDATE: Trump To HOST NBC's SNL Nov. 7; Likely Biggest 'Equal Time' Trigger In History

(Update: For an article about a few of the ins and outs of the 'equal time' issues that may now be in play, please see this "memo".)

GOP Presidential front-runner Donald Trump is going to host NBC's Saturday Night Live franchise on November 7, in what is likely to trigger the most high-profile 'equal time' demands in U.S. political history.

NBC made the hosting announcement this morning.

As Arizona's Politics first reported, Hillary Clinton's 3-minute appearance on the comedy program 1 1/2 weeks ago prompted NBC to alert its affiliates to be on the lookout for requests for equal time from other candidates, although no such inquiries have yet come to life*.

The FCC has previously determined that only primary opponents - as opposed to opponents competing for another party's nomination - are entitled to equal time. Clinton has only four major Democratic opponents.

However, Trump still has approximately** 14 opponents for the GOP nomination.  It is highly likely that one or more of them will believe that requesting equal time - either on SNL or some equivalent NBC show - will be in their interest.  The early announcement of Trump's hosting also opens up the possibility of pre-requesting equal time; maybe SNL will even be able to put together a twinsies tag-teaming debate with candidates and their comedy impersonators!

Arizona's Politics has inquiries into NBC, and several of the major campaigns, and will update this article as needed.

*There is a 7-day window to make an equal time request. However, stations are supposed to upload their notifications immediately to trigger the time period, and some have still not uploaded (e.g. KPNX in Phoenix).

**Depending on how you define major opponents. The FCC regulations do limit the doctrine to prevent hundreds of non-major opponents from demanding free airtime.

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