Note: There’s an intersting discussion on this subject at Volokh’s place excerpted below.
Talk of succession in the event of a vacancy in the DA’s office has begun:
If Fred Thompson leaves to run for Prez, Cabot could replace him as DA.
Actually, NBC would be smart to work a presidential run into the script. (That is, if L&O stays around for another season–see TV Guide for that discussion.)
Would that create an FEC legal problem? Maybe. But I don’t remember a whole lot of gnashing of teeth over the legality of another television drama using ongoing current political events as subject matter during election years.
Also wondering about the fate of L&O after a potential Thompson announcement is Prof. Volokh, who read this in the WP:
One potential consequence of a Thompson campaign could be the blackout of “Law & Order” episodes in which Thompson appears.
That prompted the law professor to wonder:
An interesting twist, however, is that the FCC’s “equal time” provisions have never been applied to cable networks, though cable networks typically comply “voluntarily.” This leads the Post story to speculate whether a Thompson campaign could provoke a legal challenge to the application of the rule to entertainment programming on cable TV.
The discussion about the legality of L&O reruns continues at Volokh’s place.
The real issue is not for TNT, but rather for NBC. . . . [The network] does not have rights to reair any Law and Order episode it wants, due to the nature of the syndication agreement. It would be restricted to more recent episodes, all of which include Fred Thompson. NBC in the summer (as well as on Saturday nights all year round) relies a great deal on Law and Order reruns . . .
Am I the only one that remembers a similar situation with Al Gore? He appeared, albeit in animated form, in an episode of Futurama, as himself, the sitting Vice President of the United States, when he was the Democratic Nominee (his daughter was a writer for the show).
During a campaign, a TV station or radio station can’t simply give airtime to one campaign, but it can run a Hannity show for three hours running, or some local equivalent, which is much the same thing.
The last commenter, in noting broadcast activities legally exempted at campaign time, exposes the whole FEC rule to a ridicule that is richly deserved whenever government tries to force free speech to be “fair” speech.