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FCC Hopes 3x a Charm For EEO

FCC Hopes 3x a Charm For EEO

The commission unanimously passed updated broadcast EEO rules; ones that commissioners believe would stand up in court if challenged. That’s important, after having two previous sets of EEO rules struck down by federal courts for being unconstitutional.
FCC Chairman Michael Powell said that sometimes, lost in the complexities of what the FCC does each day, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that “some things are just right.”
“This is just right,” he said.
The new rules focus on station outreach. Following a three-pronged recruitment effort, stations would: disseminate information concerning full time job vacancies, provide notice of such vacancies to any organization that requests them, and participate in long-term recruitment efforts – such as job fairs, internships and scholarship programs – every two years.
Stations with five to 10 employees operating in smaller markets must participate in two such events every two years; stations employing 10 or more people in larger markets must participate in four such events every two years.
Religious broadcasters remain exempt from the rules.
Powell also supported other efforts to help diversify broadcasting, such as the minority tax certificate idea revived recently by Sen. John McCain, and he urged Congress to consider this option.
NAB President/CEO Eddie Fritts said broadcasters share with the agency the goals of increasing opportunities for minorities and women, but the new rules appear to “have done little” to reduce paperwork burdens,” particularly for small broadcasters.
The Minority Media and Telecommunications Council, which represents several civil rights and religious organizations, applauded the effort.
Still to be determined is how to handle reporting requirements for part-time vacancies, and how to use hiring data supplied by stations such as information on an applicant’s sex or race. When a federal court last struck down the EEO rules in 2000, it said it was unconstitutional to use such data to go after a station for alleged recruitment deficiencies.
A separate proceeding would determine how and when such data is used, and whether it would be made public.
The rules take effect early next year – 60 days after publication in the Federal Register.