Fines of $14,000 and $8,000 were proposed by the FCC for violations of its EEO rules in two cases (here and here) released on the FCC’s last business day of the year.  In both cases, the fines were issued as these clusters of stations, on the FCC Form 396 EEO Reports filed with their license renewal applications, publicized a number of job openings without adequate recruitment.  In the cases faulted by the FCC, the stations’ recruitment relied solely on either internal station sources (e.g. word of mouth, referrals from existing employees, ads on the stations or on their own websites) or on on-line resources.  The Commission concluded that this was inadequate dissemination of the information about these openings.  Based on the failure to engage in broad outreach for all of their job openings, these fines were issued by the FCC – perhaps the first of more to come as the FCC reviews license renewal applications during the current license renewal cycle.  Perhaps coincidentally, the FCC will be conducting a webinar on its EEO rules on Wednesday, January 4, which is intended to help explain the obligations of broadcasters and other FCC regulated entities under these rules.

 The January 4 webinar will feature two panels.  The first will be a panel of FCC and private attorneys (I will be one of the participants) who will outline the legal obligations of broadcasters under the FCC’s EEO rules and policies and discuss how these rules are applied .  A second panel will feature industry representatives talking about EEO compliance best practices at their stations.  The webinar is free, but requires registration (here).  The FCC public notice of the webinar can be found here, and a further description of the seminar is available on its blog (here).  No doubt, the issues leading to the two fines announced on Friday will be discussed during the legal session.


Continue Reading FCC Fines Up to $14,000 Proposed for License Renewal EEO Violations, Commission To Hold Webinar to Explain Its Rules

In three cases released last week, the FCC made clear that its EEO rules, requiring wide dissemination of information about job opportunities at broadcast stations (and cable systems), are not satisfied by solely posting of information about openings on websites.  Instead, the Commission required that additional outreach efforts be undertaken in order to assure that the notice of the job opening reaches all groups within a  community.  The decisions pointed to the FCC’s 2003 Report and Order adopting the current rules which stated that the FCC did not feel that the Internet was sufficiently ubiquitous that they could feel comfortable with on-line postings being sufficient to reach all groups within a community.  In the recent decisions, the FCC staff said that they were not ready to change the determination of the 2003 Commission.

What does this mean on a practical level?  The decisions hold that simply using internal station sources plus on-line postings (in one case website postings plus some combination of walk-ins, industry referrals, and internal postings; in another case  the use of the station’s website, plus employee referrals) were insufficient to assure wide dissemination.  To avoid getting caught in this trap, broadcasters must use some other traditional outreach services (e.g. employment agencies, community groups, educational institutions, and the local newspapers) to assure that they meet the Commission’s wide dissemination requirements. 


Continue Reading On-line Recruitment Not Sufficient EEO Outreach for the FCC

The FCC has released another Public Notice that it is auditing the EEO performance of a number of the entities that it regulates.  However, this time, the audits are not of broadcasters, but instead of cable companies and other multichannel video programming distributors who are subject to essentially the same EEO rules as broadcasters.  The