The FCC has announced another round of EEO audits – looking at the compliance with the FCC’s EEO rules and policies of several hundred radio and TV stations across the country. Those stations selected for the audit (see the list here) must provide the FCC with the last two year’s public inspection file reports, plus all records maintained by the selected stations that back up the data reported in the annual reports. The full list of the documents that must be produced is contained in the FCC’s letter that went out to stations who were selected (a copy of that letter is available here). In the FCC’s Public Notice announcing the audit, the FCC emphasized that stations need to post the most recent EEO public file report on their websites, and this requirement was also included in the audit letter. The FCC emphasized that station’s who do not meet this obligation (which the FCC can check from their desks in Washington) are subject to fines. Responses to the audits are due by May 9, 2011.
EEO is again important to the FCC. We wrote about the recent reminders about the advertising nondiscrimination clauses that broadcasters must include in their advertising contracts. Broadcasters will also need to report on their EEO compliance at license renewal time – and license renewals are coming up for all stations across the country in the next 4 years – beginning with radio stations in Maryland, DC, Virginia and West Virginia in June (see our advisory on Preparing for the License Renewal, here). And, as we reported in December, the FCC has been fining stations for less than complete EEO efforts. So be prepared. For further information about a licensee’s EEO obligations, see our advisory setting out the basics of the FCC’s EEO rules and our most recent advisory on the requirements for the annual EEO public inspection file report.