Does Candidacy Trump The Apprentice?
Thursday, March 10, 2011
As billionaire Donald Trump, the controversial real-estate magnate and contentious King of NBC's The Apprentice, plays coy about his candidacy for President, the man is on the verge of casting himself in another reality TV universe--the one of political infomercials and punditry. But would his entrance onto this reality show mean that he'd have to cancel his prior contract with The Apprentice?
FCC rules for television networks who carry images of declared political candidates say that they should provide equal opportunity to all candidates. Under section 315 of the Communications Act of 1934:
If any licensee shall permit any person who is a legally qualified candidate for any public office to use a broadcasting station, he shall afford equal opportunities to all other such candidates for that office in the use of such broadcasting station.
The rule would go into effect on a state-by-state basis if Trump became a legally qualified candidate in any given state, and apply nationally if he became legally qualified in at least 10 states. That could set up an awkward situation for NBC. They'd need to provide airtime to all the other Republicans contending for the primary who request it, equal to Trump's hefty face-time on the Apprentice. Perhaps they'll say, "You're Fired!"