Today, your Association, along with the State Broadcasters Associations for all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, filed Joint Reply Comments in the FCC’s proceeding reassessing FCC Form 397, the EEO Mid-Term Report, and other actions relating to enforcement of the FCC’s EEO Rule. A copy of the Joint Reply Comments can be found here.
The Joint Reply Comments urged the FCC to: (1) promptly eliminate the current requirement that TV stations with five or more full-time employees, and radio stations with 11 or more full-time employees, file FCC Form 397, the EEO Mid-Term Report, since it is now redundant to information already publicly available in stations’ online public files; (2) reject calls by some commenters to reinstate Form 395, the Annual Employment Report, which requires a numeric breakdown of a station’s staff by race, ethnicity, and gender categorized by job position; and (3) reject any suggestion that the FCC seek to alter its enforcement of the EEO Rule based upon the racial, ethnic, and gender composition of a particular station’s staff.
The filing of Annual Employment Reports was suspended by the FCC in 2001 after a coalition of State Broadcasters Associations successfully challenged the FCC’s previous EEO Rule in court. The court held that the EEO Rule was unconstitutional in that it judged stations’ EEO performance based not upon their individual hiring practices, but upon whether those practices led to a work force that matched the demographics of a station’s market. The Joint Reply Comments noted that the proposals made by some commenters in this proceeding would run afoul of these same constitutional restrictions.