The FCC last week released its first EEO audit notice for 2024.  The FCC’s Public Notice, audit letter, and the list of stations selected for audit is available here.  Those stations, and the station employment units (commonly owned or controlled stations serving the same area sharing at least one employee) with which they are associated, must provide to the FCC (by uploading the information to their online public inspection file) their last two years of EEO Annual Public File reports, as well as backing data to show that the station in fact did everything that was required under the FCC rules.  The response to this audit is due to be uploaded to the public file of affected stations by May 6, 2024. The audit notice says that stations audited in 2022 or 2023, or whose license renewals were filed after February 1, 2022, can ask the FCC for further instructions, possibly exempting them from the audit because of the recent FCC review of their performance. 

With the release of this audit, and last year’s $25,000 fine proposed for some Kansas radio stations that had not fully met their EEO obligations (see our article here), it is important to review your EEO compliance even if your stations are not subject to this audit.  The FCC has promised to randomly audit approximately 5% of all broadcast stations each year. As the response (and the audit letter itself) must be uploaded to the public file, it can be reviewed not only by the FCC, but also by anyone else with an internet connection anywhere, at any time.  The Kansas fine, plus a recent $26,000 fine imposed on Cumulus Media for a late upload of a single EEO Annual Public File Report (see our article here), and the FCC’s recent decision to bring back EEO Form 395 reporting on the race and gender of all station employees (see our article here), shows how seriously the FCC takes EEO obligations.Continue Reading FCC Issues First EEO Audit Notice for 2024 – 250 Radio and TV Stations To Have Employment Activities for the Last Two Years Reviewed

At the end of April, we noted in our weekly summary of regulatory actions for broadcasters that the FCC had issued its first EEO audit notice for 2023 (available here), this time targeting over 200 radio and TV stations.  Those stations, and the station employment units (commonly owned stations serving the same area) with which they are associated, must provide to the FCC (by uploading the information to their online public inspection file) their last two years of EEO Annual Public File reports, as well as backing data to show that the station in fact did everything that was required under the FCC rules.  The response to the April audit is due to be uploaded to the public file of affected stations by June 8, 2023. 

While we noted the release of the audit notice, we thought that we should post our customary article describing the audit requirements and the basics of the FCC EEO rules as a reminder to all stations as to their general FCC EEO obligations.  The FCC has promised to randomly audit approximately 5% of all broadcast stations each year. As the response (and the audit letter itself) must be uploaded to the public file, it can be reviewed not only by the FCC, but also by anyone else with an internet connection anywhere, at any time.  The recent fine imposed on Cumulus Media for a late upload of a single EEO Annual Public File Report (see our article here) and the FCC’s pending consideration of the return of the EEO Form 395 reporting on the race and gender of all station employees (see our article here), shows how seriously the FCC takes EEO obligations. So, whether you are on the list or not, this is a good time for broadcasters to review what is generally required by the FCC’s EEO rules.Continue Reading Reminder About Broadcasters’ FCC EEO Obligations After the April’s First 2023 Audit of Station Performance

May is relatively light on scheduled regulatory deadlines for broadcasters, but the following dates are worthy of note.  In addition, always remember to keep in touch with your legal and regulatory advisors to make sure that you don’t overlook any regulatory deadlines that are specific to your station.

Comments are due on May 15, with reply comments due on June 13, on the FCC’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) requesting comment on a variety of proposed rules implementing the Low Power Protection Act (LPPA).  The LPPA provides certain low power television stations in small markets with a “limited window of opportunity” to apply to become Class A television stations with primary status, protecting them from interference from new or improved full-power stations.  The FCC is seeking comment on interpreting the eligibility requirements for stations seeking this status.Continue Reading May Regulatory Dates for Broadcasters – Rulemaking Comments on Various TV Issues and More