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EEO Could Cost Opus $20,000

Media Bureau ruled at year’s end

What constitutes proper recruitment, for EEO purposes? It’s an important question that can turn out to be costly if you own a station and don’t have the right answer.

In an equal employment opportunity case, Oregon broadcaster Opus Broadcasting was hit with a $20,000 notice of apparent liability for forfeiture just as the old year was coming to a close.

The chief of the FCC Media Bureau issued the NAL on Dec. 29. Opus is the licensee of KROG(FM) in Grant’s Pass; KCNA(FM) in Cave Junction; and KRTA(AM) and KEZX(AM), both in Medford. The FCC added that Opus’ application for license renewal for the stations remains pending because they are “subject to FCC enforcement proceedings that are not related to EEO.” Opus has 30 days to file an appeal.

The rules in question require a licensee to “broadly recruit for every full-time job vacancy in its employment unit operation,” use recruitment sources to “widely disseminate” information about the vacancy and so forth. The rules also involve regular review of station recruitment and how to retain records.

The FCC said Opus failed properly to recruit for 28 of 29 full-time vacancies over a six-year time period. “For six vacancies, the licensee relied solely on ‘walk in/mail in’ or other non-public sources, thus failing to recruit for every full-time vacancy.” It also relied “solely on Internet websites as its only public recruitment source for seven vacancies, and relied solely on on-air advertisements for 15 vacancies.” This, the Media Bureau found, means Opus failed to use recruitment sources sufficient to disseminate information about vacancies.

Opus also failed to provide records of the number or referral sources of interviewees even after the FCC requested the information, “indicating that the licensee has no record of the number or sources of such interviewees.” That meant the broadcaster also was unable to include required info in its EEO public file report, the commission wrote.

“The failure to recruit or recruit adequately continued through the 2008–2009 reporting period, the last of the reporting periods under review in this case,” among other problems.

The FCC listed several factors to justify the $20,000 fine, including a prior EEO case involving Liberman Television of Dallas. It also plans to impose reporting conditions on Opus to ensure future compliance.

On the same day, the FCC issued an $8,000 EEO NAL in an unrelated case involving Zimmer Radio in Missouri.