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NBC News is not backing down amid calls to move President Trump’s town hall on Thursday night.

NBCUniversal News Group chairman Cesar Conde said in a statement that the decision to air Trump’s town hall at the same time as Vice President Biden’s was not a decision motivated by business.

“We share in the frustration that our event will initially air alongside the first half of ABC’s broadcast with Vice President Biden. Our decision is motivated only by fairness, not business considerations. We aired a town hall with Vice President Biden on October 5 at 8pm. If we were to move our town hall with President Trump to a later time slot we would be violating our commitment to offer both campaigns access to the same audience and the same forum. We hope voters will watch both discussions — ours will be available at any time, free and on-demand on YouTube, Peacock and all our digital news platforms,” said Conde.

Trump took a shot at NBC and Comcast during a rally in Greenville, N.C., calling his town hall a “free hour of television” and that the entire event is a “con job.”

“You know, I’m being set up tonight. I’m doing this town hall with ‘Concast,’ because it’s a con job…It’s NBC, the worst. Home of sleepy-eyes Chuck Todd…They asked me if I’d do it. I figured ‘What the hell, we’ve got a free hour of television.’ And we have Savannah Guthrie, she’s always lovely, isn’t she? But I figured why not?” Trump said.

On Thursday morning, more than 100 Hollywood actors, directors, producers and showrunners sent a petition to NBCUniversal and Comcast executives protesting the timing the town hall. The hashtag #NBCBlackout was a top trend on Twitter, and several actors, including Conan O’Brien, Jim Carrey, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Barbra Streisand, called out NBC on social media.

The lengthy list of petition signees includes Ava DuVernay, J.J. Abrams, Damon Lindelof, Aaron Sorkin, several cast members of NBC’s “This Is Us” and many more who have worked with NBCUniversal at some point. The protest letter was addressed to Comcast CEO Brian Roberts, NBCUniversal chairman Jeff Shell and Conde.

“We have always thought of NBCUniversal as both a terrific creative home and a brand that stands for the best in entertainment and broadcast journalism. This is why we have been devastated to learn that you have chosen to air President Trump’s town hall this Thursday night at 8 p.m., directly opposite Vice President Biden’s town hall,” the letter says. “This is not a partisan issue. This is about the political health of our democracy.”

NBC’s decision to air Trump’s town hall came after the president refused to participate in the second debate against Biden. Both nominees elected to host their own virtual town halls, with ABC first announcing Biden’s event for Thursday at 8 p.m. and Trump and NBC following suit at the same time.

“President Trump refused to participate in the virtual debate scheduled for Thursday night by the Presidential Debate Commission,” the letter says. “By agreeing to air his town hall as counterprogramming opposite Vice President Biden’s town hall on ABC, you are enabling the President’s bad behavior while undercutting the Presidential Debate Commission and doing a disservice to the American public.”

See the full letter below.

To Brian Roberts, Jeff Shell and Cesar Conde:

We are a group of writers, actors, directors and producers. Many of us have been lucky enough to work for NBCUniversal at some point in our careers. Some of us are currently employed at your studio. We have always thought of NBCUniversal as both a terrific creative home and a brand that stands for the best in entertainment and broadcast journalism.

This is why we have been devastated to learn that you have chosen to air President Trump’s town hall this Thursday night at 8 p.m., directly opposite Vice President Biden’s town hall.

This is not a partisan issue. This is about the political health of our democracy.

President Trump refused to participate in the virtual debate scheduled for Thursday night by the Presidential Debate Commission. By agreeing to air his town hall as counterprogramming opposite Vice President Biden’s town hall on ABC, you are enabling the President’s bad behavior while undercutting the Presidential Debate Commission and doing a disservice to the American public.

We believe this kind of indifference to the norms and rules of our democracy are what have brought our country to this perilous state.

We are simply asking that NBC air the President’s town hall either before or after Vice President Biden’s so that American voters can have the opportunity to watch both.

We understand the necessities of business, especially in this difficult time. But we believe there are larger issues of civic responsibility at stake here.

Signed…

Aaron Sorkin
Adam McKay
Adam Scott
Alex Barnow
Allison Tolman
Amy Lippman
Amy Schumer
Aubrey Plaza
Ava DuVernay
Ayelet Waldman
Ben Stiller
Billy Eichner
Billy Porter
Brendan Gall
Chelsea Handler
Chris Bishop
Chris Meloni
Chris Miller
Chris Sullivan
Chrissy Metz
Courtney Kemp
Dahvi Waller
Damon Lindelof
Dan Fogelman
Daniel Hageman
David A. Goodman
David Guggenheim
Debra Messing
Ely Henry
Emily Gordon
Eric Guggeheim
Greg Berlanti
JJ Abrams
Jason Moore
Jennifer Yale
Jill Knox
Jim Parriott
Joe Mantello
Jon Cryer
Jon Hamm
Jon Huertas
Josh Gad
Josh Singer
Julianne Moore
Julie Plec
Justin Hartley
Keith Powell
Kenya Barris
Kevin Hageman
Kumail Nanjiani
Laeta Kalogridis
Latoya Morgan
Mandy Moore
Marc Guggenheim
Mariska Hargitay
Marti Noxon
Martin Gero
Matthew Lopez
Max Mutchnick
Michael Chabon
Michael Green
Michele Fazekas
Milo Ventimiglia
Neal Baer
Nicholas Stoller
Nicole Yorkin
Otmara Marrero
Parvesh Cheena
Patton Oswalt
Phil Lord
Preacher Lawson
Robert Kirkman
Ryan Murphy
Samuel Baum
Sarah Schechter
Sarah Silverman
Sarah Treem
Seth Grahame-Smith
Seth Rogen
Shakina Nayfack
Sophia Bush
Sterling K. Brown
Sunil Nayir
Susan Kelechi Watson
Tara Butters
Terry Matalas
Thor Freudenthal
Tom McCarthy
Tony Kushner
Travis Beacham
Vanessa Taylor
Zoe Lister-Jones
Ken Olin
Abbi Jacobson
Alison Janney
David Kohan
Robert King
Malcolm Spellman
Seth MacFarlane
Marjorie David
Donald Faison
Chris Misiano
David Goyer
Julie Martin
Joss Whedon
Warren Leight