This item has been corrected.
NBC announced today that the Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump will host the Nov. 7 episode of Saturday Night Live—his second time hosting the sketch comedy show.
Trump’s appearance is likely to get the show astronomical ratings—but his cameo could also give other Republican candidates vying for the nomination a windfall of free airtime. Thanks to the Federal Communication Commission’s “equal time” rule, if one candidate receives a certain amount of airtime, other opposing qualified candidates can ask for as many minutes of airtime on the same network, free of charge. The rule was invoked by Sen. Joseph Lieberman, who was running for the Democratic nomination in 2004, when his opponent Al Sharpton hosted SNL—Lieberman’s campaign lawyer eventually negotiated to have 28 minutes of a town hall with the candidate rerun on NBC.
The rule allows for opponents to ask for comparable time in the same time slot on the same broadcast network (usually on networks where the candidates have already been campaigning). It does not, however, give candidates the right to a spot on the same TV show. So while Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton appeared on a recent SNL skit, you probably won’t be seeing Republican candidates Ben Carson or Carly Fiorina on the SNL stage anytime soon.
This item has been updated to correctly identify the opponent of Sen. Joseph Lieberman in the 2004 Democratic primary race; it was Al Sharpton, not Al Gore.