The FCC today released a Public Notice announcing that it had sent EEO audit letters to approximately 150 radio and television stations around the country. The Public Notice contains a list of the stations being audited. In its Order adopting the current EEO rules, the FCC promised to audit about 5% of all stations each year. Thus, expect more audits as the year progresses.
As we wrote last week, the FCC recently fined a number of stations for violations of the EEO Rules discovered either as a result of audits or in the license renewal process. Today, fines of $5000 each were issued to two stations which had not conducted broad outreach for 40% of their job openings (the stations had recruited for only 6 of 10 job vacancies reported in their renewal applications). This decision is significant as it is one of the first times that the FCC has fined a station for something other than an almost complete failure to recruit or do the necessary paperwork. Here, the stations had relied solely on word of mouth recruiting for 4 of 10 positions, causing the FCC to find its efforts inadequate.
Clearly, the FCC is getting very serious about enforcement of its EEO policies. For a complete outline of the FCC’s EEO requirements, read our EEO advisory, here.