Stations in Washington, D.C., Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia will take the FCC's new EEO Form 397, the Broadcast Mid-Term Report, on its first test run this coming June 1, 2007. Other states will follow in stages through 2011, submitting the Form 397 on the fourth anniversary of their last license renewal filing—hence the name "Mid-Term Report."
The FCC's Mid-Term Report obligations are similar to those licensees faced at renewal time—a station employment unit with five or more full-time employees (television) and 11 or more full-time employees (radio) must file its two most recent annual summaries of recruitment activity, called "EEO Public File Reports." As you may be aware, the FCC has provided no official form for the EEO Public File Report. A template Report appears at Tab 8 of the "EEO Basics Binder," Wiley Rein LLP's comprehensive summary of the FCC's EEO rules.
The Form 397 is yet another among the FCC's store of EEO enforcement tools. As a result of an FCC EEO audit (which occurs at least three times each year) or a Form 396 Broadcast EEO Model Program Report at license renewal, the FCC has issued stiff fines against broadcasters in recent months for failure to comply with its EEO rules, including the harshest penalty yet—$20,000.