Was Cumulus wrong to spike the Nashville interview with Pete Buttigieg?

Jul 23, 2019

Country Music radio host Blair Garner (L) and Democratic presidential primary candidate Pete Buttigieg.
Credit blairgarner.com

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (OSBORNE) -- A mid-state media law specialist says radio powerhouse Cumulus got it wrong when the company cited federal law for refusing to air a Nashville interview with Democratic presidential primary candidate Pete Buttigieg.

Country Music DJ Blair Garner recorded the interview when Buttigieg was in Music City this past week. Cumulus told Garner he couldn’t air the interview on the company’s network of more than 400 U.S. radio stations because it would violate Federal Communications Commission regulations.

Stations generally avoid airing candidate interviews, because the FCC would then require them to give equal time to every candidate for the same office.

But Middle Tennessee State University Media Law Professor Larry Burris says it's too early in the 2020 campaign season for the rule to apply.

“While they may declare themselves to be running for president, they are not a legally qualified candidate yet, and therefore the equal time provisions don’t apply.”

However, Burriss goes on to say Cumulus was right to consider how airing the interview would appear to listeners "at a time when there is a concern about fairness in the broadcast industry."

Cumulus did allow Blair to make the Buttigieg interview available on the popular DJ’s Soundcloud page. You can find that interview here.