NBC 10 is hosting an "Ask the Mayor" town-hall meeting on live TV tonight, and Karen Brown has a question about it: Why is the Republican nominee for mayor shut out of an event for the Democratic incumbent six weeks before the Nov. 8 general election?

Brown is asking NBC 10 to provide her with "equal time," citing a federal law that regulates how stations give air time to political candidates.

NBC 10 spokeswoman Kathleen Burke yesterday said that the town hall was "designed to give the people of Philadelphia an opportunity to directly ask the mayor about issues of importance to them and their community." Burke and Nutter's campaign said that the event is not political. Nutter is promoting the event on his campaign website and his City Hall website.

"If it is determined that equal- time provisions apply in this situation, we will of course comply," Burke added.

Brown's attorney, Republican ward leader Matt Wolfe, wrote Burke yesterday, noting that Brown had been denied a chance to even sit in the studio audience.

"You told Ms. Brown that the live studio audience was by invitation only and controlled by the candidate Nutter and his staff," Wolfe wrote.

Burke said that NBC 10 and Nutter's staff issued the invitations. Wolfe's letter said that the event did not seem to fit the exemptions in the equal-time law for newscasts, news interviews, news documentaries or "on-the-spot coverage" of news events.

Brown, a Democratic committeewoman until the GOP City Committee recruited her to run for mayor, plans to lead a protest outside the station's studios on City Avenue while the show airs from 7-7:30 p.m. "It's ridiculous that they're doing this," Brown said. "I said: 'How is that not biased? You're allowing the mayor to have a puff piece right before the debate.' "

Fox 29 next Tuesday is taping the only mayoral debate set so far - to be aired on Oct. 7. KYW Newsradio hosted an "Ask the Mayor" show every two weeks, after Nutter took office in 2008. Steve Butler, program director, said that the program was put on hiatus when Nutter became a candidate for re-election.