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It's Not Hosting SNL, But NBC Will Give 'Equal Time' To 4 GOP Candidates

Four GOP candidates made "equal time" requests after Donald Trump guest-hosted <em>Saturday Night Live</em> this month.
Mark Lennihan
Four GOP candidates made "equal time" requests after Donald Trump guest-hosted Saturday Night Live this month.

They won't actually get to host Saturday Night Live, but four GOP candidates have completed agreements with NBC allowing them to broadcast campaign messages on affiliate stations in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina over Thanksgiving weekend.

These deals resulted from "equal time" requests made after leading GOP candidate Donald Trump guest-hosted Saturday Night Live on Nov. 7.

The campaigns of John Kasich, Mike Huckabee, Jim Gilmore and Lindsey Graham will have access to network commercial and promotional time on 18 affiliate stations in those three states. Their messages will air in prime-time hours on Friday and Saturday and during this week's telecast of Saturday Night Live, which is a rebroadcast of an episode aired earlier in the year.

Federal "equal time" rules require broadcasters who give a candidate free exposure in non-news or documentary broadcasts to offer equivalent time to some competitors who request it.

What may surprise some TV fans most is the amount of time the network is providing — NBC determined Trump was on air for just 12 minutes and 5 seconds (out of the 90-minute program) during his guest-hosting stint. So that's how long each of the four candidates will now receive.

The network is also in discussions with the campaign of former New York Gov. George Pataki.

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Eric Deggans is NPR's first full-time TV critic.