Equal Time

Posted in Marketing and Strategy Terms, Total Reads: 343

Definition: Equal Time

In the context of the U.S. radio and television broadcast, an equal time is an obligatory requirement imposed on the broadcaster to give the competitors a time equivalent to those of others who are showing news or promotions on their channel. The obligation is imposed by the Federal Communications Commission. According to the rule, the broadcaster is not obliged to provide any license to any candidate.

However, if the broadcaster provides license to broadcast for one candidate he/she is obliged to give the same time to other candidates to broadcast in the same format. This has been in place to ensure that the competitors have an equal chance to show their message which effects the decisions of the voters and consumers. The equal time concept can be seen as an opportunity to enforce equal opportunities which should be given to all contesting parties in an election.


There are exceptions to this rule. The broadcasters are not obliged to give an equal time to the competitors in case of the broadcasting of documentary, bona fide news, scheduled news caste or an on the spot news event. These are exempted from the rule because giving an equal time on these front to the competitors would eventually hamper the organisations bottom line. It is in these cases that the broadcaster’s discretion can play a significant role.


One of the cons of equal time is that the broadcasters lose out on time which is a critical resource. They have to show the messages of the competitors when they desire. It may result in a loss of revenue for the first. It is for this reason that there was a hue and cry when this law was being implemented.



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