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U.S. Senate Candidate Files Complaint on Chicago TV Station

CHICAGO: A candidate for the Illinois Senate seat left open by President Barack Obama is laying the groundwork to sue a PBS member station for excluding him from a debate. Jacob Meister has filed a complaint against WTTW-TV with the FCC, alleging the station is discriminating against him because he is openly gay. WTTW left Meister out of the line-up because of his low poll numbers--less than 5 percent, according to The Associated Press. Meister’s camp contends the numbers are outdated.

“It is unfortunate that we must seek action, but we must because WTTW has continued to refuse to permit Mr. Meister to participate in the program, taking the position that he is not a viable candidate,” Meister’s attorney, David Axelrod, said in a statement. “We had hoped that there would have been a remedy at this juncture. Barring that, this action is the right course to take.”

Axelrod said Meister’s campaign obtained more than 17,000 signature supporting his inclusion on the ballot and that he’s been invited to “every other public forum in which the other U.S. Senate candidates have been invited to participate,” he said. “The only fact, which appears to distinguish Mr. Meister from any of the other Democratic Party candidates, is that Mr. Meister is gay.”

WTTW used poll numbers from Dec. 2, Axelrod said. Meister’s popularity has grown since then, and the local ABC affiliate included the candidate in a Jan. 12 debate. The station made its decision based on news judgment, according to press reports. There are five Democratic candidates for the open seat; WTTW invited three.