In May of 2012, Media Action Center monitored local talk radio in Milwaukee, Wisconsin during the Scott Walker recall, and found that WISN and WTMJ radio hosts gave supporters of Scott Walker and the GOP more than one million dollars in free airtime, while preventing supporters of Tom Barrett and the Democrats from accessing the microphones – at all.
Not only is that immoral, it breaks the Federal Communications Commission rule known as the Zapple Doctrine. As a result of that study, MAC has filed a formal complaint to the FCC asking them to enforce this rule that says in the 60 days prior to elections, if a broadcaster provides airtime to supporters of one major party candidate, it must provide comparable time to supporters of the other major party candidate.
We are expanding this action so volunteers NATIONWIDE can demand comparable time on our local public airwaves when candidates we support are shut out of the public square of radio.
Starting September 7th, any time you turn on the radio and hear a host or guest supporting one major party candidate but not providing time to the other major party candidate, please write an email – within seven days - to the manager of the local station you tuned into, demanding comparable time. (Templates are below.)
Broadcasting is a public/private partnership, and ALL stations are licensed to serve the public interest of their LOCAL communities. So whether it’s Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity promoting Mitt Romney, or your local host promoting only the GOP candidate for Governor, Congress, or the school board (or only promoting the Democratic candidate, this does work both ways) stand up for your rights as the owners of the broadcast airwaves and demand equitable treatment for candidates of both major political parties! (Sorry, Zapple does only apply to “major” parties.)
Note: If a radio show has a candidate on the air, it is up to the opposing candidate to request equal time. This action is for us to request comparable time for people on the air other than the candidates themselves.
Here is an examples for you to use:
Dear WHO or KWWL or WMT or KXIC (or whatever station) management,
On (date,) Jan Mickelson (or whoever) had a guest (name) who spent many minutes promoting Mitt Romney, but had no guests promoting Barack Obama.
As an Obama supporter, I am requesting comparable time on your station under the Zapple Doctrine.
name, address, phone
VERY IMPORTANT: Either BCC me (email@example.com ) or send me an email letting me know you have emailed the letter.
EVEN MORE IMPORTANT: Forward me whatever response you get from the station management. We will use these letters to develop legal materials to support our earlier complaint to the FCC.