NBC Iowa Won't Air Sharpton 'SNL'

Associated Press - 12/5/03

DES MOINES, Iowa - Democratic presidential candidate Al Sharpton will host this weekend's broadcast of "Saturday Night Live," but viewers in Iowa won't see it.

All four NBC television affiliates in the state announced they won't carry the show because Sharpton is one of nine candidates seeking the Democratic nomination. The selection process begins with the Iowa caucuses Jan. 19.

Tim Gardner, director of creative services at WHO-TV in Des Moines, Iowa, said station lawyers decided that airing the 90-minute show would trigger federal "equal time" provisions - meaning the stations would have to offer an equal amount of air time to each of the other presidential candidates.

WHO and two other stations instead will air a previous episode of the 90-minute show. KWWL viewers in the Waterloo, Iowa, area will get to watch three infomercials pitching the Miracle Blade, Total Trolley and something titled "Attacking Anxiety."

Sharpton campaign manager Charles Halloran was puzzled by the decision.

"Their lawyers must not have finished law school because NBC went through all sorts of research to make sure that it was appropriate," Halloran said.