Schwarzenegger’s ‘Tonight’ Bow Draws FCC Complaint

Oct 12, 2006  •  Post A Comment

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s appearance on NBC’s “The Tonight Show” drew a complaint from gubernatorial opponent Phil Angelides, who petitioned the Federal Communications Commission for equal time on the air.

The Angelides for Governor campaign objected to an Oct. 11 appearance on “The Tonight Show” by Gov. Schwarzenegger, Mr. Angelides’ Republican opponent in the November statewide election. Angelides, a Democrat, says NBC and 11 TV stations in California should provide him with airtime to balance the publicity Gov. Schwarzenegger received.

“The FCC has told us that it will move quickly on this complaint, with an answer as early as Monday at 12 noon,” Angelides for Governor staffer Steven Maviglio said in an e-mail Thursday.

For more than 60 years, broadcasters have been required to either sell or give all candidates for a particular office the same amount of air time, according to the Museum of Broadcast Communications. While candidates’ appearances in news and documentary programming are exempt from the equal time provision, entertainment programming such as talk shows are not.

The Angelides campaign is buttressing its argument by pointing to past FCC rulings and the decision of 32 NBC affiliates in 2003 not to run an episode of “Saturday Night Live” featuring presidential candidate Rev. Al Sharpton.

Earlier in the week Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.) filed his own complaint with the FCC over the matter.