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Why Broadcasters Should Heed a Recent $25,000 FCC EEO Fine

- New Standard in FCC EEO Compliance?

Texas stations should take heed of this month’s proposed $25,000 fine against a Kansas broadcaster for alleged violations of the commission’s EEO rules.

At issue was the broadcaster’s late uploads of FCC-required Annual EEO Public File Reports, as well as inadequate documentation of FCC-mandated EEO outreach efforts.

“This fine appears to set a new standard for the penalties for FCC EEO violations,” said David Oxenford, an attorney with TAB Associate member law firm Wilkinson Barker Knauer

Timely Uploads of FCC EEO Annual Employment Reports

It has become an oft-repeated TAB warning to Texas stations since broadcasters were mandated to migrate the station Public Inspection File online in the last decade, but it remains true – stations should make maintenance of the Online Public Inspection File (OPIF) a top priority of station operations.  

As Oxenford notes in a blog post, ”there was no allegation that the reports were not completed on time – just that they were not timely uploaded.”

Simply stated, the FCC can review a station’s timeliness in uploading required OPIF documents at the touch of mouse, either from the FCC’s headquarters or working remotely from home.

It’s more reason that stations need to be vigilant about FCC-required OPIF uploads.

EEO Outreach Efforts, Recruitment Initiatives, Not Properly Documented

Stations should note that the EEO compliance violations issued by the FCC in this case go beyond the timely upload of the Annual EEO Public File Reports.

The stations involved could not produce documentation of adequate outreach efforts to fill open station positions, nor for its recruitment initiatives.

“The FCC staff did not question if those EEO efforts existed,” said Oxenford.  “Instead, it simply cited the fact that the licensee did not produce documents to support its efforts.”

The stations involved had run on-air advertisements for the station openings but could not document any other types of broader outreach to the potential pool of applicants in the local community.

“Stations must, whether they have any job openings or not, conduct non-vacancy EEO initiatives, such as educating the community about broadcast employment opportunities and the qualifications for such positions, and training employees to assume more advanced positions at their stations,” said Oxenford who has written about this requirement previously.

TAB again urges stations to diligently comply with the FCC’s EEO regulations, from timeliness of uploading required reports to documenting in writing all the station’s EEO outreach efforts and employment initiatives.

Questions? Contact TAB’s Michael Schneider or call (512) 322-9944.

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