It sounds like Law & Order fans could be in for a blackout if Fred Thompson does end up running for President:
If Fred Thompson, the one-time Tennessee senator better known to most Americans as district attorney Arthur Branch on “Law & Order,” runs for president, some of his fans may be in for a letdown. Television stations are expected to drop reruns of the show temporarily if he makes a real-life bid for the White House.
Federal campaign law requires broadcasters to give all candidates equal time on the airwaves. That rule applies to entertainment programs like “Law & Order,” meaning stations which run the show would be required to give other GOP candidates a like amount of prime time television exposure.
“As a practical matter, [the television stations] would in all likelihood have to pull all of the Fred Thompson shows for the duration of his candidacy,” said Andrew Jay Schwartzman, president of the Media Access Project.
When you think about it, it’s a pretty stupid rule. Thompson’s appearances as Arthur Branch, or in any of the numerous movies that he’s been in over the years, aren’t related in any way to a theoretical run for the White House and can’t seriously be considered political in any respect. Under a sane legal regime, TNT would be free to run all the Law & Order reruns it wanted to without fear of a lawsuit.
Then again, as Law & Order itself often shows us, we don’t live in a sane legal regime.