One of the state’s biggest broadcasters has given 13 Republican county committees $325,000 worth of free air time to promote candidates on its radio and television stations that serve communities from Sacramento to San Diego.
Pappas Telecasting Cos., which calls itself the largest privately held broadcast firm in the nation, made the donations earlier this month.
Though it is unclear how much of the time has actually been taken, Democrats complain that the offer unfairly benefits GOP candidates in violation of federal law.
An attorney representing Assemblywoman Nicole Parra (D-Hanford), who is running in a hotly contested reelection race against Republican Dean Gardner, sent a letter Saturday to Pappas demanding equal time.
A spokesman for Pappas, however, said the donations have been reviewed by the Federal Communications Commission and do not trigger provisions of federal law that require broadcasters to give all candidates equal broadcast time.
Michael Angelos, company spokesman, said the donations are being given to the county committees and not directly to any candidate.
The company owns 28 stations in 11 states and operates in most of California’s major markets, including Sacramento, Fresno, Bakersfield, San Francisco, Modesto and Los Angeles.