The FCC yesterday issued another in its series of EEO random audit notices, asking that approximately 170 radio stations nationwide provide information about their hiring practices.  Information requested includes the last two years worth of broadcast EEO Public File reports, plus more complete documentation of the efforts outlined in the Public File reports and demonstrating that the information provided in the annual report was really conducted and accurately reported.  In addition, the FCC asks that a station provide an explanation if their most recent EEO public fie report cannot be found on the Station’s website.  The FCC’s Public Notice about this audit, which lists the stations that must respond, can be found here.  That Public Notice also reminds broadcasters of the obligation to post the EEO public file report on the station’s website, perhaps indicating that the FCC has been investigating and has found instances where this is not being done.  Responses to the audit must be filed by September 21.  A form of the EEO audit letter is available here

On the same day as the FCC issued this audit for radio stations, it issued a Public Notice to remind Multi-Channel Video Programming Distributors (MVPDs) with six or more full-time employees, including cable systems, of their obligation to file by September 30 their Annual EEO Program Reports on FCC Form 396-C .  This form is to be filed through the FCC’s electronic filing system.  This notice also reminds certain cable systems of the need to submit supplemental information about their hiring efforts to the FCC. 


Continue Reading FCC Announces New Round of EEO Audits for Radio Stations; Reminds Broadcsters of Requirement to Post Annual EEO Public File Report on Station Website, and Cable Companies of Obligation to File EEO Program Annual Report

In two recent actions, the FCC has evidenced its concern about the EEO performance of its licensees.  Last week, the Commission’s Enforcement Bureau entered into a Consent Decree with DIRECTV, by which DIRECTV paid the FCC $150,000 in lieu of a fine for the company’s failure to abide by the FCC’s EEO rules by not preparing an Annual EEO Public File Report or submitting a Form 396-C for several years.  The FCC also released a Public Notice announcing changes in the racial categories to be used in FCC Form 395 – the Form breaking down the employees of a broadcaster or cable company by race and gender.  That form has not been filed for years, as its use was prohibited when the FCC EEO rules were declared unconstitutional.  In adopting new EEO rules in 2003, the FCC promised to return the form to use, but has been wrestling with the issue of whether or not the form should be publicly available or whether it should simply used internally by the FCC to collect data about industry employment trends. The adoption of new definitions for the racial categories specified on the form may signal the return of this form.  Together, these actions demonstrate that the FCC has not lessened its concern about EEO in any fashion.

The DIRECTV fine was the result of the company’s failure to prepare Annual EEO Public File Reports or to submit 2003 and 2004 Form 396-C reports – reports that are more detailed versions of the Form 396 filed by broadcasters with their license renewals and the Form 397 Mid-Term Employment report.  The Form 396-C requires that multichannel video providers detail their hiring in the previous year and the outreach efforts made to fill job vacancies, the supplemental efforts that the employment unit has made to educate its community about job openings, and other details on the company’s employment practices.  After review of the company’s efforts, the Commission not only faulted the company for its paperwork failures, but also determined that the company had not engaged in sufficient outreach for all of its employment openings – relying solely on the Internet and on word-of-mouth recruiting for many job openings, which the Commission found to be insufficient.  Broadcasters need to make sure that they do not forget to file their required EEO forms, prepare their annual EEO Annual Public File Report, and engage in wide dissemination of information about all job openings.  Details of the FCC’s EEO rules, policies and requirements applicable to broadcasters can be found in Davis Wright Tremaine’s EEO Advisory.


Continue Reading Big EEO Fines on DIRECTV, and The Return of FCC Form 395B