Cox Media Group, which owns the station, insists it is not required to offer Collins the same amount of time on the radio as Martha Zoller, his opponent in the race for the new 9th District seat in the U.S. House.
Scott Smith, general manager of WXKT, said the station plans to keep Zoller on the air for now.
“Rather than penalizing Ms. Zoller for her interest in representing the people of our state, we are allowing her to continue her employment at the present time,” Smith wrote in an email to The Times.
The station manager said WXKT does not have to offer equal time to Zoller’s opponents in the congressional race until she becomes a legally qualified candidate in the spring. She plans to leave the show at that point.
“We take our (Federal Communications Commission) responsibilities seriously and, of course, will comply with all FCC political candidate rules,” Smith wrote.
In response to the denial, Collins campaign consultant Chip Lake doubled down, taking the entire Cox Media empire to task:
Lake said the campaign worries about objective coverage by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, also owned by Cox Media.
“Given the fact that Cox Media Group owns the largest daily newspaper in the state, we were optimistic that our request might be granted, given the circumstances,” Lake said. “It is impossible to objectively cover this race if … one of your colleagues is a candidate in the race.”