DENIES ROSS PEROT'S COMPLAINT AGAINST ABC, CBS, FOX
AND NBC TELEVISION
NEWSReport No. MM 96-27,
October 4, 1996)
The Commission today denied a complaint against the major television
networks by RossPerot,
presidential candidate of the Reform Parties, concluding that he
is not entitled to "equal time" in
connection with a variety of network appearances by President Bill
Clinton and his Republican Party
opponent Bob Dole. The Commission
also found that each network had offered to sell Perot
of prime time programming sufficient to meet their
obligations under the "reasonable access"
provisions of the Communications Act.
Section 315 of the Communications Act requires broadcasters to provide
equal opportunities to
a candidate's opponents when it permits that candidate to appear.
In his complaint, Perot contended
that ABC, CBS, and NBC failed to provide him with equal opportunities
related to Clinton and
Dole appearances during their respective presidential nominating
conventions. Perot also contended
that he should be provided with equal opportunities in response
to Clinton and Dole appearances
in the upcoming presidential debates.
Perot also claimed that he is entitled to equal
in response to recent appearances by Clinton and Dole on the ABC
program "20/20" and
certain programming by Fox involving presentations by Clinton and
Dole. In denying Perot's complaint,
the Commission noted that Section 315(a) exempts several types of
bona fide news programming
from the equal opportunities requirement imposed in that Section. The Commission found
that the programs complained of qualified as bona fide news programming
under 315(a) and that
equal opportunities were not, therefore, required.
also alleged that each of the networks denied him reasonable access,
in violation of the Communications
Act. Section 312(a)(7) of the Act requires Broadcasters
to provide or sell "reasonable"
amounts of time to legally
qualified candidates. Perot
said he asked to purchase eight one-half
hour blocks of prime time from each network -- one half-hour slot
per week beginning September
8, continuing through the week of October 27 plus time on election
eve. Each of the networks
offered Perot a package of time, including a half hour of prime
time in the month before the election. The Commission concluded that the networks
had properly balanced Perot's request with their
concerns regarding substantial program disruption, and that the
amount of time offered by the networks satisfied their
"reasonable access" obligations.
by the Commission October 3, 1996, by Memorandum Opinion and Order
(FCC 96-401). Chairman Hundt, Commissioners Quello, Ness