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.