SACRAMENTO, Calif. – "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" will feature Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Wednesday — just one month before the Nov. 7 election — but not his Democratic opponent, state Treasurer Phil Angelides.
Angelides asked to appear on the show but had not received a response by Tuesday afternoon, said Steve Maviglio, a spokesman for Angelides' campaign. A "Tonight Show" spokeswoman confirmed the Republican governor's appearance but did not respond to repeated requests for comment.
U.S. Rep Xavier Becerra, D-Los Angeles, filed a complaint on Angelides' behalf with the Federal Communications Commission on Tuesday that accuses the "Tonight Show" of violating the equal time provision of the Federal Communications Act.
"Use of the broadcast spectrum is granted as a public trust," Becerra wrote. "It is not to be used to favor certain candidates."
Federal rules require broadcast stations to give equal time to candidates who appear on the air, although the rules do not apply to news programs, interview shows and documentaries in which the candidate is not the sole focus.
A spokeswoman for the Federal Communications Commission said she could not comment because she had not yet seen a formal complaint.
The equal time question came up during the 2003 gubernatorial recall election, when Schwarzenegger declared his candidacy on Leno's show in a surprise announcement. Not long afterward, the "Tonight Show" invited all 135 recall candidates to appear, although they were hardly given equal time with Schwarzenegger. Instead, they were given 10 seconds to shout their ideas, all at the same time.
Television stations also stopped airing Schwarzenegger's movies after he declared his candidacy to avoid violating the equal time provision.
In his letter to the FCC, Becerra said the "Tonight Show's" decision to give the recall candidates air time in 2003 demonstrates that the show felt it was liable under the equal time provision.