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Candidate Stern poses equal-time problems

If bad-boy deejay Howard Stern proceeds with plans announced last week to run for governor of New York, radio stations that carry his programming in the Empire State could be forced to provide equal airtime to opposing candidates.

That’s the word from Bobby Baker, senior attorney in the Federal Communications Commission’s political programming branch.

“Nothing in our rules prohibits (Stern) from being a candidate or from staying on the air after he’s on the ballot,” Baker said.

However, he said, FCC equal-time rules would be triggered once Stern becomes a legally qualified candidate.

Stern said he would seek the Libertarian candidacy, but if he chooses to run in a major party’s primary, all other candidates in that party would require equal broadcast time. In the general election, all candidates would require equal time.

Baker said the equal-time regs would not kick in until Oct. 3, about five weeks before the election.

Stern’s radio program airs in New York City, Albany and Buffalo. His opponents in the gubernatorial race could demand equal time and comparable timeslots on those stations once Stern’s candidacy becomes official.

Stern, who’s repeatedly run afoul of the FCC for allegedly broadcasting “indecent” remarks, could ironically find a safe haven for his shock jock talk within the confines of his political commercials.

That’s because FCC rules generally bar broadcasters from censoring political ads.

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