The FCC on Friday released a declaratory ruling making it significantly easier for broadcasters and MVPDs to meet their EEO obligations imposed by FCC rules. These rules for broadcasters and MVPDs (cable and satellite TV providers) requires that these businesses, when filling job openings, widely disseminate information about the openings in a manner that is expected to reach members of all community groups in the area from which employees are likely to be found. In the past, under the rules adopted in 2002, the Commission has not allowed recruitment to be conducted solely through online sources. Instead, the 2002 order suggested that the daily newspaper would, in many communities, be an outlet that would reach the diverse groups within a community – though most broadcasters supplemented newspaper publication with notifications to numerous schools, community organizations, educational institutions and others who might possibly refer employee candidates. Stations that relied solely on online sources faced substantial fines from the FCC (see the cases we summarized here and here ). The decision on Friday recognized that we are in a different world than when these rules were adopted almost 15 years ago. Now, most recruiting is done online. Thus, in response to a petition I filed on behalf of clients (summarized here ), the FCC determined that a broadcaster or MVPD can rely solely on online sources in its recruiting . It no longer needs to use the newspaper, reach out to community groups community groups or even use its own airwaves to give notice of job openings to satisfy the wide dissemination obligation. The FCC encouraged stations to continue to use some of these outreach methods, but it is no longer required. The broadcaster or MVPD needs to be reasonable in picking online sources that are likely to reach the members of various groups within its community – though the decision as to exactly which online employment sources to use will be left to the good-faith discretion of the broadcaster or MVPD. The Commission went so far as to say that, depending on the circumstances, a single online source could reasonably be found to be sufficient. Note that this ruling does not change any other EEO requirement. Even though broadcasters no longer need to reach out to community groups to meet the requirement of wide dissemination of job openings, a separate “prong” of the FCC’s EEO policy still requires that broadcasters notify community groups of job openings when a group specifically asks to be notified of such openings. So all outreach to community groups is not over. Also, this ruling does not disturb the requirement that broadcasters engage in efforts to educate the public about broadcast employment opportunities and how to find those opportunities and to train for them. This requirement for non-vacancy specific outreach requires that a broadcaster conduct a certain number of menu options every two years – things like attending job fairs, participating in internship or scholarship programs, and having employees speak at educational institutions or before community groups about broadcast employment. Nor does the ruling lessen the paperwork requirements of completing an annual EEO public file report and otherwise retaining information about a station’s hiring practices. Random EEO audits will also continue (see our post here about the last EEO audit notice). For more about the FCC’s EEO rules, see our posts here and here . Even though some EEO obligations must continue to be observed by broadcasters, this is one step supported both by broadcasters and members of the minority community to bring FCC-required recruiting practices into the modern day.
Posts Tagged ‘power’
Gorillaz make their first appearances on Billboard’s Hot Rock Songs chart in more than seven years, as four songs debut on the ranking…
FCC Proposes to Adopt Rules Allowing Fundraising for Third-Party Nonprofit Organizations By Non-CPB Noncommercial Stations
The FCC released the agenda for its April 20 th meeting – and it includes three broadcast items. Two deal with noncommercial broadcasters ( undoing the requirement for noncommercial broadcasters to get Social Security Numbers from its board members so that they can acquire an FCC Registration Number for them – see our articles here and here on that issue – and one allowing noncommercial broadcasters to interrupt programming to raise funds for unrelated non-profit organizations ). The third deals with the UHF discount (see our summary of this proposal here ). The third-party fundraising issue has been pending at the FCC for almost 5 years, when the FCC proposed to relax its policy that prohibits noncommercial broadcasters from interrupting normal programming to raise funds for “third-party” nonprofit groups (see our article here on the proposal). A noncommercial station can raise funds for nonprofit groups during normal program breaks in PSAs or other similar brief announcements, but under current policy, they cannot conduct a telethon or radiothon to raise funds for the Red Cross, a local charity, a religious organization or even for the football team or orchestra at a college or university that owns a noncommercial broadcast station. The FCC yesterday released its proposed order that would change the current policy. It would allow a noncommercial station to raise funds for another non-profit entity, but only for 1% of its airtime – about 87 hours a year. However, this relaxation would be limited to noncommercial stations that do not receive CPB funding , as many PBS and NPR stations opposed the change fearing that they would be deluged by requests for funding from local nonprofits (including, for university licensees, from their licensees themselves for non-station related financial needs). It was feared that such campaigns could undermine the noncommercial service provided by these stations, and could interfere with the station’s own fundraising. But other noncommercial stations can, if this order is adopted, do this kind of fundraising for other nonprofit organizations. Many, including religious broadcasters, saw these activities as being part of their mission. However, the broadcaster who takes advantage of these new rules will have to make public file disclosures about the nature and extent of the fundraising efforts (detailing when they were done, for whom and even, if the broadcaster is involved in collecting the money, how much was raised). Interesting, a supposedly deregulatory Commission appears ready to adopt new paperwork burdens for noncommercial broadcasters. Such fundraising is limited to 501(c)(3) charitable organizations. Local charities that don’t have tax exempt status do not qualify.