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MMTC: Minorities ‘Purged’ From Radio News

Council calls FCC enforcement a stunning failure.

Gathering specific EEO data from broadcasters will lead to better commission policy and enforcement, says the Minority Media & Telecommunications Council, which calls current FCC enforcement “a stunning failure.”

In comments to the commission on proposed changes to its EEO rules (MM Docket 98-204), MMTC’s David Honig and Joycelyn James refer to a “collapse” of EEO in radio news. in which most recruitment is still done by word of mouth.

“In 1995, RTNDA reported that minorities were 14.7% of radio news employees, but that number actually had declined to 6.2% by 2006. Starting from this percentage, MMTC has calculated that minority news employment at non-minority owned, English-language radio stations is statistically zero — about where it was in 1950.”

With word-of-mouth recruitment, writes MMTC, news of job openings “primarily reaches these employees’ generally homogeneous family and social affinity groups. … Unless an industry had already employed a critical mass of minorities, large enough to replicate itself over time by participation in word of mouth recruitment, minorities are at risk of being purged. That has already happened in radio journalism.”

Calling the commission’s EEO enforcement program “a tiny shell of its former self,” MMTC says that while enforcement efforts feature higher fines than those issued a decade ago, the size of the commission’s EEO docket is down from 251 cases from 1994–1997 to 10 cases from 2004–2007, and total fines have also dropped from $312,250 in 1994–97 to $12,125 in 2004–07.

MMTC urged the commission to reinitiate collecting EEO race and gender data and set a date by which broadcasters must publicly release their annual employment reports.