Local Stations Not on the Hook for Trump’s Equal Time

By Tim Baysinger 

Sitting around the television with your family this Thanksgiving weekend? If you live in Iowa, South Carolina or New Hampshire, you will be subject to an onslaught of ads from four Republican presidential hopefuls—and you have Donald Trump and NBC to thank for it.

Following Trump’s Saturday Night Live hosting stint on Nov. 7, five GOP contenders filed “equal time” requests with NBC. The network has now cut a deal with four of them.

“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,” said NBC spokeswoman Lauren Skowronski. Former New York Gov. George Pataki also made an equal time request but rejected NBC’s offer. The network is still working with his campaign.

NBC will allocate 12 minutes of free airtime to the four campaigns during prime-time hours on Nov. 27 and Nov. 28, as well as during SNL on the 28th. The time will be granted across 18 affiliate stations that broadcast in all or part of those three early-voting states.
Since all of the equal time requests were handled by the network instead of the local stations, all 48 minutes of airtime will be taken out of the network’s commercial inventory and promos, leaving the local stations’ ad time untouched. It’s not known how the four candidates plan to use their 12 minutes.

While NBC had to forgo nearly an hour of commercial time on those stations, the network likely isn’t losing too many ad dollars. The two days after Thanksgiving are some of the least-viewed nights in prime time. NBC’s schedule those nights includes several hours of Dateline, a rerun of the National Dog Show and reruns of Saturday Night Live.

This story was first published on Adweek.com