The nuts and bolts of legal issues for broadcasters were highlighted in two sessions in which I participated at last week’s joint convention of the Oregon and Washington State Broadcasters Associations, held in Stephenson, Washington, on the Columbia River that divides the two states. Initially, I conducted a seminar for broadcasters providing a refresher on their EEO recruiting obligations set out under FCC rules. With some public interest groups calling for stricter enforcement of a broadcaster’s EEO obligations, and with the license renewals for Oregon and Washington State radio broadcasters coming up in 2013 (with TV the next year), broadcasters cannot slack off on these important obligations to widely disseminate information about job openings and to educate their communities about broadcast employment issues as required by the FCC rules. Slides from my PowerPoint presentation on a broadcaster’s EEO obligations are available here. Broadcasters looking for more information on EEO obligations can review the Davis Wright Tremaine Guide to the EEO rules, here, and our most recent reminder about the obligations for the annual EEO public inspection file report, here.
At a second session, we discussed the variety of legal issues facing broadcasters in the current environment. Many of the same issues discussed in this session were also discussed in my Top Ten List of Legal Issues to Keep Broadcasters Awake at Night, details of which can be found here. Some specific questions were raised during the Oregon-Washington session include questions about the FCC rules covering contests that stations conduct, and the rules that apply to such contests. See our blog post on some of those issues here and here. The obligations for the public file of broadcasters are also set out in our advisory, here. Another issue that broadcasters should remember is the new obligation for their advertising contracts to include terms that state that advertising is not sold for any discriminatory purpose, to avoid no-urban, no Spanish dictates (see our post here for details). As we wrote recently in connection with fines issued to a couple of stations for multiple day-to-day violations of the FCC rules, the attention to these details now will avoid major financial headaches for broadcasters later, and potentially long-term issues at license renewal time as well.