This afternoon, the FCC released a brief Order looking toward the day when life in the U.S. hopefully returns to normal, and broadcast stations begin rehiring furloughed workers. In the two-page order, the FCC waived the requirement in its EEO rule that broadcasters and MVPDs engage in “broad outreach” when filling each full-time job position. Making clear that this relief is restricted to the circumstances of COVID-19, the FCC limited application of the waiver to the rehiring of station employees that were laid off due to the pandemic, and only where the employee is then rehired within nine months of being laid off.
The FCC has proposed eliminating the requirement that certain television and radio stations file a Broadcast Mid-Term EEO Report (Form 397).
In March 2018, the FCC proposed eliminating the Equal Employment Opportunity Mid-Term Report (also known as Form 397) and now those wishing to voice their opinions can do so until April 30 with reply comments due by May 15.
On Friday, the FCC announced its first EEO audit of 2018. The notice itself was not sent by mail, but instead by email, the first time that email has been used to for EEO audits. Also, the procedure for responding to the audit is different. No longer does the broadcaster subject to the audit have to submit paper copies of all of its documents to the FCC through the FCC Secretary’s office. Instead, the response will be filed in the station’s online public file.
A coalition of top public broadcast organizations formally withdrew a recommendation Friday that the FCC ease equal employment opportunity requirements for public stations. America’s Public Television Stations, NPR, CPB and PBS jointly recommended the review in a joint response to the commission’s request for comments on its agenda to modernize media regulations. After supporters of the EEO rules objected last week, the organizations formally withdrew it.
The FCC’s Media Bureau has levied a $20,000 fine for a licensee operating a five-station cluster in South Carolina that allegedly did not keep good EEO records and, when subject to a random EEO audit, was unable to identify any recruitment sources for other than word-of-mouth recruiting for six of 11 hires over a two-year period.