On Friday, the FCC issued a Public Notice announcing its first EEO audit of 2018. The Notice lists the almost 300 radio and television stations that will be subject to the review as well as the rules that apply to that audit. And those rules are somewhat new. First, the notice itself was not sent by mail, but instead by email – the first time that email has been used to deliver the notice of an EEO audit. Some broadcasters who received the email seemed surprised and wondered if the email really was an official FCC communication, so the FCC included verification methods in the letter including a link to the Public Notice. So, if you are listed on the Public Notice, you are subject to the audit.
Second, the procedure for responding to the audit is different. No longer does the broadcaster subject to the audit have to submit paper copies of all of its documents to the FCC through the FCC Secretary’s office. Instead, the response will be filed in the station’s online public file. The response must be uploaded to the online public file by April 12. There, the FCC can review that response (as can anyone else anywhere, at any time, as long as they have an internet connection). The audit requires that the broadcaster submit their last two EEO Public File Reports (which should already be in the online public file) and backing data to support the outreach efforts. Broadcasters subject to the audit should carefully review the audit letter to see the details of the filing.