FCC Update: Need for EEO rules explored

In June, the Commission held an en banc hearing on the need for new broadcast and cable equal employment opportunity (EEO) rules.
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In June, the Commission held an en banc hearing on the need for new broadcast and cable equal employment opportunity (EEO) rules.

There were opening statements by Chairman Michael K. Powell and the other three commissioners. Former FCC commissioner Henry Rivera then provided a description of the history of the Commission''s EEO rules and policies. The meeting then turned to two panel discussions, each followed by a question-and-answer period. The first panel focused on the challenges of EEO outreach. The panel was weighted towards minority and women''s organizations, including the National Urban League, American Women in Radio and Television, the National Organization for Women, and Hispanic Americans for Fairness in Media. These groups said that there historically has been employment discrimination in the broadcast industry. They also said that previous broadcast EEO rules helped reduce the problem, but that more work still needs to be done. These panelists endorsed the return of EEO regulation by the Commission.

Also included on the panel were the American Federation of Radio and Television Artists, Midwest Family Broadcast Group, and the executive director of the Texas Association of Broadcasters, Ann Arnold. Arnold questioned the need for new EEO regulations. She pointed out that the broadcast industry, for over three years, has not been subject to any EEO rules, but that there is no evidence of any new discrimination in employment. She also informed the commissioners, none of whom was a sitting commissioner during the last license renewal cycle, of the abuses that had occurred under the former EEO system.

The second panel addressed methods of achieving broad and inclusive outreach. Included on the panel were Cathy Hughes, the founder and chairman of Radio One, and other broadcast industry managers involved in outreach. These panelists recounted a number of anecdotes based on their experiences and described recruitment programs that they found to be successful in attracting diverse applicant pools. Hughes remarked on the difficulty she has had in recruiting Caucasian applicants for her minority-oriented stations. The panelists provided few other examples of negative experiences in attracting minority and female job applicants.

The goal of the meeting appears to have been to provide the Commission with evidence to support the adoption of new EEO rules. While neither of the panels produced evidence of any particular need for FCC regulation, the sympathetic ear given by the commissioners to the panelists suggests that the commissioners may likely view the hearing testimony as supportive of new rules.

Processing fees increased

Effective Sept. 10, the Commission amended its schedule of application filing fees to reflect changes in the Consumer Price Index — Urban (“CPI-U”) as of Oct. 1, 2001. Copies of the Fee Filing Guide listing the new fees are available at the Commission''s Web site, (www.fcc.gov/formpage.html), or through its Forms Distribution Center at 1-800-418-FORM [3676]. For those keeping track, the CPI-U has undergone a net change of 40 percent since October 1989.

Author''s Note:

As a clarification for the reader, the June FCC Update article on emergency information requirements for TV stations incorrectly referred to closed captioning.

Harry C. Martin is an attorney with Fletcher, Heald & Hildreth PLC, Arlington, VA.

Send questions and comments to:harry_martin@primediabusiness.com

Dateline

TV Annual Regulatory Fees TV VHF Commercial

Markets 1 - 10

$47,050

Markets 11 - 25

$34,700

Markets 26 - 50

$23,625

Markets 51 - 100

$15,150

Remaining markets

$3,525

Construction permits

$2,750

TV UHF Commercial

Markets 1 - 10

$12,800

Markets 11 - 25

$10,300

Markets 26 - 50

$6,600

Markets 51 - 100

$3,875

Remaining markets

$1,075

Construction permits

$5,175

Annual regulatory fees must be paid by Sept. 25, 2002. The fees for commercial television stations are shown in the table above.

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