I had wondered about this

The Joe Allen show is cancelled in Macon. Though not really the Joe Allen Show, the Fox Files that comes on Thursday night in Macon was Joe’s show.

A few months ago I had mentioned to Joe that I expected his challenger to file a complaint over the equal time rule. Joe sounded very confident that it would not be an issue and I was not going to argue with him. Being well versed in the intricacies of the equal time rule, however, I knew it was only a matter of time before this happened.

A station can’t take a chance given Joe’s position. Joe is on the ballot this November. The raison d’être for the show is Joe as County Commissioner. It’s a little hard to avoid the political — too hard for a television station facing an aggressive FCC.

Put it this way: television stations stopped running Days of Thunder and Hunt for Red October when Fred Thompson became a candidate for office. There’s no way Fox 24 could have left Joe on the air and been comfortable.

22 comments

  1. drjay says:

    a couple of things–i would think until qualifying occurs that there is no candidacy–i understand you can file w/ fec and raise money and announce before that–but i would think until qualifying occurs “equal time” is unenforceable–after that then a gov’t affairs program would probably be off limits-but the idea that tnt can’t show law and order reruns during camapign season b/c of equal time is absurd–groups decide not to invite to debates based on polling numbers-how does that fit into the equation? obama showed up on snl how does that fit? maybe a network should offer george takei’s opponent the opportunity to be a supporting character on a one hour drama to balance out his role as sulu on star trek reruns…that would be “equal time”–this rule seems to not be applied in the spirit it was intended–if by chance the episode of “who wants to be a millionaire” i was on ran on game show network when i when i was running for city council in my hometown would my opponents have been due a chance to be on a gameshow also??? seriously…

  2. Doug Deal says:

    Erick, is there any reason why you do not mention the mysterious “challenger” by name?

    Anyway, I suppose that they could have invited this candidate who shall not be named onto the show as a point-counterpoint or something.

  3. Erick says:

    No, Drjay. The problem in this case is that the show features the Commissioner/Candidate talking about a host of issues relating to county business, policy, and politics.

    News guys are extreme caution.

    And candidates for public office are generally not allowed on game shows.

  4. shep1975 says:

    Jay, the FCC water is kind of muddy when it comes to what is a “legally qualified” candidate for office. I think both Allen and Atkinson would have good cases between legally filing to raise money and actually qualifying for office.

    Also, the FCC has 4 exceptions to the equal time rule. What has also become a legal gray area though is the issue with appearences by a candidate that are not for their candidacy, like Fred Thompson in Days of Thunder or your idea of a game show.

    What is not a grey area is a candidate is an incumbent candidate doing a daily or weekly section about what is going on in their office as “a public service.” There are several cases where the FCC has upheld equal time for opponents in those cases.

  5. drjay says:

    i get this specific issue w/ the gov’t affairs show–but i also know when george takei ran for la city council a station quit running star trek reruns-and i know about the game show thing–i had to sign a waiver when i was on the show in 2000–but game show network shows reruns–i ran for office in 2007–a fact i’m sure they were unaware of–if by chance it had aired my rerun while i was a qualified candidate… if tnt pulled law and order reruns…

  6. RuralDem says:

    Erick,

    I’ve watched Fox Files a few times in the past because one of my county commissioners appears occasionally.

    She’s normally on maybe once a month or every two months, would she have to stop appearing?

    Is Allen on every week and that’s where the problem lies, or is it the fact that he appears on the show at all?

    I know on the show she mostly discusses what is actually going on in our community, and I rarely (if ever) hear her state any type of personal opinions, it’s more of a look into what is going on in our county (ie: we recently started a Chamber of Commerce) and stuff like that.

  7. Erick says:

    RuralDem, Allen is on every week.

    Doug, it was not intentional on my part to not mention Maurice’s name — the post was really not about him though, but about Joe.

  8. shep1975 says:

    Four Exceptions for which Equal Time is not required:

    If the air-time was
    1. in a documentary,
    2. a bona fide news interview,
    3. a scheduled newscast, or
    4. an on-the-spot news event.

  9. Bill Simon says:

    John Konop Sez: Law Order would have been a problem! This is why I did not support Fred.

    Let me get this straight, John: You were not FOR Fred Thompson because he acted on a show called Law & Order?

  10. Bill Simon says:

    To this thread’s issue at hand, I believe Maurice Atkinson (the candidate who has a perfect right to challenge Joe Allen and shall be named by me) DID approach the station about equal time. The station gave him the middle finger….but, when they received a letter detailing their possible litigation exposure and nearly 1o,000% guarantee of losing their asses, they decided “Gollllllee! We gotta take that Joe Allen off the air ’cause we might get our butts kicked!”

  11. liberator says:

    I faced the same problem with them Over the weekly Mayor Ellis Show in 2003 as I mounted a write-in campaign against Ellis for Mayor of Macon. Fox allowed me to appear for one hour under equal time although there was a question as too a write-in candidate getting equal time.

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