Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Hampton's Political Opponent Forces Him Out Of Council Race

Noblesville Common Council member Kathy Stretch (R) apparently wasn't too happy about the prospect of facing the popular former WRTV sports reporter Wil Hampton in this year's Republican primary in the Noblesville municipal election. According to the Indiana Daily Insight, Stretch complained to media companies that employed Hampton to demand equal time under an obscure FCC rule. As a consequence, Hampton decided to drop his bid for the council rather than give up his daytime livelihood. The IDI reports:

WRTV 6News sportscaster Wil Hampton (R) is officially withdrawing from his race for the Noblesville Common Council. Hampton's campaign says that his opponent, Councilmember Kathie Stretch (R), "contacted several of the media outlets that employ Mr. Hampton. Citing obscure and vague FCC regulations, Stretch made a formal complaint to Hampton's employers demanding that she receive equal broadcast time. Stretch's challenge represented a real threat to Hampton's business and his ability to work. Hampton notes that he had to choose between his livelihood and public service. He has chosen his family. 'Broadcasting is my job; it’s how I provide for my family. Kathie's actions have given me two choices: either provide for my family and pursue my career, or challenge her for the District 4 seat. Since I can't do both, I choose my family.' "

Hampton is employed by Velocity Sports Performance in Carmel as Director of Recruiting, which includes work for the Indianapolis Colts. He also continues to work for WRTV sports in a freelance capacity.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

The FCC rule involved is not obscure or vague. It is very clear. If a candidate for office appears on a TV or radio or cable broadcast, NOT in connection with an appearance on a news broadcast which includes some talkshows specifically exempted from the equal time rule (i.e. Larry King, Oprah, Bill O'Reilly)the opponent MUST be given equal time. This occurs only IF the opponent requests it. In the case of an on air employee of a TV or radio station or cable company, if that employee appears on air and is a legitimate candidate for office, that station is liable to provide equal time to their employee's opponent. But again, if the opponent brings it to the stations attention. There have been instances of employees of local stations who have been candidates for office before. Those employees were taken off the air for the duration of their campaign (primary or general). Wil Hampton should have known that or done the research. Obviously, his opponent did.

Advance Indiana said...

I would point out that the FCC allowed broadcasts of old Reagan movies when he ran for president, and Arnold Schwarzenegger's movies played while he was a candidate for governor of California. In both cases, equal time rules were not applied. It seems to me that if the candidate's reason for being on air arises out of the ordinary course of their regular employment, the rule should not apply as long as the person is making no statements in furtherance of his/her candidacy. In the case of Mike Pence, it was a problem because his radio talk show on WIBC was all about politics and advancing his political causes. It was appropriate for WIBC to make him step aside. Hampton does not cover the news in his job. He's strickly a sports reporter. The rule should not have been used against him.

Anonymous said...

She knew she couldn't beat him in the primary, so this was the only way to continue her campaign. Will is a good family man, he shouldn't have been put in that situation.

Anonymous said...

The FCC granted waivers of the equal time rule for the Reagan and Arnold movies. Mike Pence was the host of a program on WIBC. It didn't matter whether he was a conservative talk host or a music DJ. Equal time applied. In Wil Hampton's case it didn't matter that he was a "sports" guy. He could have applied to the FCC for a waiver, but I doubt it would have been granted. What I don't understand is did Hampton alert his employers that he was running for office. Did they sign off, without checking with the FCC? If they did, then they did Hampton a disservice.

Anonymous said...

Same thing happened to State Rep. Dave Crooks. He had to give up being on the air on the radio stations he owns because of this rule (Or he could have given his opponents equal time on the radio)

It's a fairly well known rule, not obscure, and cost Rep Crooks having to hire new on air DJ/hosts to take his place.

Advance Indiana said...

I correct myself. The Equal Time Rule didn't apply to cable channels which ran old Reagan or Schwarzenegger movies. It did apply to the broadcast networks.