Trump on screen for 12 minutes during 'SNL' appearance

Trump on screen for 12 minutes during 'SNL' appearance
© Saturday Night Live

Donald TrumpDonald TrumpFormer New York state Senate candidate charged in riot Trump called acting attorney general almost daily to push election voter fraud claim: report GOP senator clashes with radio caller who wants identity of cop who shot Babbitt MORE appeared on NBC's "Saturday Night Live" for 12 minutes and five seconds over the weekend — a benchmark other presidential candidates can use if they want to trigger the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) “equal opportunity” rules. 

Trump’s appearance, in which he delivered the opening monologue and hosted the program, boosted the comedy sketch show’s ratings.

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It is unclear yet if any other presidential campaigns will petition NBC broadcast stations around the country to give their candidates an equal amount of airtime. 

Under the FCC’s equal opportunity rules, stations that feature a presidential candidate in their broadcast must disclose details of the appearance. Other qualified candidates can petition to get an equal amount of time on the air. 

There is a broad exception for news events and candidate interviews and debates.  

Democratic candidate Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonBiden says Russia spreading misinformation ahead of 2022 elections Highest-ranking GOP assemblyman in WI against another audit of 2020 vote Women's March endorses Nina Turner in first-ever electoral endorsement MORE’s brief appearance on "SNL" earlier this year triggered a similar disclosure. After that short appearance in October, NBC’s general counsel advised its affiliates to disclose facts about Clinton’s time on air, in case any other candidate wanted an equal opportunity to appear.   

Another Democratic candidate, Harvard Law School Professor Lawrence Lessig, who has since dropped out of the race after poor poll numbers and little attention, reportedly petitioned broadcasters for equal time after Clinton’s appearance. 

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has said the rules are clear and will be enforced. He sidestepped a question last month about whether the rules should be reevaluated.

“The process is you make the request and then we are kind of the adjudicator if things don’t take care of themselves,” Wheeler said. 

Years ago the FCC ended separate controversial rules that required news broadcasters to cover public issues in a fair and balanced way — known as the Fairness Doctrine.  

In 1987, the commission repealed those rules after determining they probably violated the First Amendment. The regulations were officially taken off the books in 2011.