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Groups Ask FCC to Wait on Collection of EEO Data

Expecting to prevail in court, opponents told the FCC they face "irreperable" constitutional injuries

Several broadcast organizations have asked the FCC not to resume collecting workforce demographic data from broadcasters until a judicial challenge has been considered.

“The FCC should preserve the status quo and stay implementation of the order and collection of Form 395-B, pending completion of all judicial review,” wrote the National Religious Broadcasters, the American Family Association and the Texas Association of Broadcasters in late June.

In February the FCC reinstated the collection of workforce race and sex demographics for most radio and TV broadcasters, a requirement that had been suspended in 2001. It also added online public disclosure of the data. That order took effect in early June.

Broadcast stations with five or more full-time employees will have to submit the required EEO information annually. The first required filings from broadcasters are supposed to be due Sept. 30, barring further developments.

NRB and TAB had challenged the ruling in a federal court of appeals, and those challenges have been consolidated into one court proceeding.

The organizations argue that the FCC order violates the Fifth Amendment “by unlawfully pressuring broadcasters to engage in race- and sex-conscious employment practices” as well as the First Amendment by compelling controversial speech.

They also say the order is arbitrary and capricious because the FCC “inexplicably both ignored record evidence showing third parties have used — and intend to use — Form 395-B data to apply such pressure and relied on facially implausible justifications for publicly disclosing Form 395-B data.”

NRB, AFA and TAB told the FCC that they face “irreparable constitutional injuries and unrecoverable compliance costs without a stay,” and that no one would be harmed substantially by a delay.

Separately the National Association of Broadcasters has argued against the public disclosure aspects of the order.

[Related: “Law Firm Tells Stations to Save EEO Data ‘Just in Case’”]

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