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Broadcasters resisting equal-employment rules

Apr 22, 2002  •  Post A Comment

To win National Association of Broadcasters’ support for new equal employment opportunity regulations, the Federal Communications Commission will have to lower its expectations.
At least that was the signal that NAB was sending loud and clear last week.
“NAB does not believe that the commission’s authority to re-regulate EEO is indisputable,” the association said in a filing at the FCC.
Under an FCC proposal to resurrect EEO rules, broadcasters would essentially be required to publicize job openings widely, send vacancy announcements to organizations that request them and reach out through job fairs, internships and other ways.
In addition, the proposed rules would require broadcasters to document their outreach efforts in their public station files and to file annual reports at the FCC noting their employment profiles.
In its comments at the FCC, NAB urged the FCC to jettison those filing requirements, relying instead on forms broadcasters would file every four years certifying that they’ve met their outreach obligations.
According to NAB’s plan, broadcasters could satisfy their outreach obligations through a combination of initiatives, including publicizing job openings on station Web pages or announcing them on air.
“NAB believes that the commission’s proposed EEO rules, although well intentioned, will subject broadcast licensees to unduly burdensome recruitment and paperwork requirements,” NAB said.
The FCC is walking a fine line with its proposal, because the federal courts threw out as unconstitutional the agency’s two previous versions of EEO regulations.
Nonetheless, a coalition of 45 groups led by the Minority Media and Telecommunications Council urged the agency to beef up its proposed regulations, including a variety of new requirements, among them obligations that top station management be personally involved in EEO efforts and that station outreach records be posted on the FCC’s Web site.
“The new regulations must not be perceived as so innocuous that no one could ever be sanctioned for violating them,” the groups said.
The National Cable & Telecommunications Association, meanwhile, generally endorsed the FCC’s proposals.
“We believe that the commission’s program of deterring discrimination and achieving broad outreach should be supplemented by the proposed record-keeping and reporting requirements,” NCTA said.