School board candidate gets equal time on local TV

Posted: Monday, September 30, 2002

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- Candidate Joseph Easaw has been reading promos for TV news shows. It's not what he expected when he decided to run for the Fairbanks North Star Borough School Board, but it's one more way to get his face in front of voters.

Easaw's opponent is news anchor Bill Burrows, who works for Tanana Valley Television. Under Federal Communications Commission rules, the television station has to offer Easaw air time equivalent to the time Burrows was on the air during the 45 days before the election.

''We ended up pulling Bill Burrows off the air,'' said J.P. Hoff, general manager for Tanana Valley Television. But not before he did four newscasts within the 45-day window.

So the station owes Easaw compensating time. The problem was how to provide that time.

''I can't offer Joseph Easaw free air time to promote his campaign because then I would be a corporate contributor,'' Hoff said. ''What I need to offer him is the same thing I offered Bill Burrows.''

Under state campaign finance regulations, corporations cannot contribute to political candidates, said Kim Wilson of the Alaska Public Offices Commission in Anchorage.

The solution: Easaw has become an on-air spokesman promoting the station's newscast.

''He will get the same exposure (as Burrows) as far as name and recognition,'' Hoff said.

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