The FCC yesterday issued a Public Notice announcing a new round of EEO audits. Letters to about 180 radio stations went out asking for evidence of their compliance with the FCC’s EEO rules. The Commission has pledged to audit 5% of all broadcast stations and cable systems each year to assure their compliance with the Commission’s EEO rules – requiring wide dissemination of information about job openings and non-vacancy specific supplemental efforts to educate their communities about job opportunities in the media industry. The form audit letter was also released by the FCC and attached to the Public Notice. Responses from the audited stations are due to be filed at the FCC by July 25. Licensees should carefully review the list of affected stations contained in the Public Notice to see if any of their stations are on the list.
The audit letter requires all stations with 5 or more full-time (30 or more hours per week) employees to provide information about their EEO programs. Even stations with fewer than 5 full-time employees need to report the names and positions of their employees, and provide any information about law suits, EEOC complaints or similar employment actions brought as a result of equal employment or discrimination matters. The requirements for stations with 5 or more employees are more significant.
While the FCC, last year, slightly revised the audit letters to cut down on the burden of compliance (by eliminating the need to produce a copy of every notice sent out to fill every job, allowing instead the filing of a representative copy of a job opening notice and a list of the sources to which it was sent), these audits still require substantial work. And if any station in your cluster is on the list, all stations in that “station employment unit” (a group of commonly owned stations serving the same area with at least one common employee) must respond. But, if a cluster has been audited in the last two years, the FCC may allow you to avoid responding to this audit – but you have to request that “pass” from the FCC. If a station that is being audited is involved in an LMA with another broadcaster, the audit may also require that the broker provide employment information as well as the licensee.
All stations should review the audit letter as it provides a good outline of the documents that stations should be retaining to demonstrate their compliance with the FCC’s EEO rules. For more information about compliance with the EEO rules, see our post about an EEO webinar in which I participated, held by the FCC in early 2012 to explain its EEO rules. You may also want to review the last set of fines for EEO violations, about which we wrote here.