|Fred Thompson is on the verge of making his run for president official, but TNT is keeping him on the job as New York's district attorney.|
The cable network will keep "Law & Order" repeats featuring Thompson, who's played DA Arthur Branch for the past five seasons, on the air after Thompson makes his candidacy official. That will happen next week, when Thompson plans a live webcast to kick off his run for the Republican nomination; the former Tennessee senator has had an exploratory committee up and running for several months.
"TNT has no plans to alter its programming schedule," a spokesperson tells The Hollywood Reporter. The network runs multiple "L&O" reruns each day, filling as many as eight hours on the schedule.
A possible Thompson candidacy has triggered concerns that other candidates could demand, under Federal Communications Commission regulations, equal airtime if an opponent is featured on the air outside of news programming. The FCC doesn't have that authority over cable networks, however, and the equal-time rule has never been challenged on a cable network.
NBC has already said it will stop airing "Law & Order" repeats featuring Thompson when he formally declares his candidacy.
Thompson has appeared in 116 episodes of "Law & Order" over the past five seasons. Even if TNT were to pull all those episodes, it would still have 277 more at its disposal.