The FCC yesterday issued another in its series of EEO random audit notices, asking that approximately 170 radio stations nationwide provide information about their hiring practices. Information requested includes the last two years worth of broadcast EEO Public File reports, plus more complete documentation of the efforts outlined in the Public File reports and demonstrating that the information provided in the annual report was really conducted and accurately reported. In addition, the FCC asks that a station provide an explanation if their most recent EEO public fie report cannot be found on the Station's website. The FCC's Public Notice about this audit, which lists the stations that must respond, can be found here. That Public Notice also reminds broadcasters of the obligation to post the EEO public file report on the station's website, perhaps indicating that the FCC has been investigating and has found instances where this is not being done. Responses to the audit must be filed by September 21. A form of the EEO audit letter is available here.
On the same day as the FCC issued this audit for radio stations, it issued a Public Notice to remind Multi-Channel Video Programming Distributors (MVPDs) with six or more full-time employees, including cable systems, of their obligation to file by September 30 their Annual EEO Program Reports onFCC Form 396-C . This form is to be filed through the FCC's electronic filing system. This notice also reminds certain cable systems of the need to submit supplemental information about their hiring efforts to the FCC.
Even though only 170 radio stations were hit by this audit notice, the audit reaches much further, as the reports must be prepared on the basis of station employment units - all the stations serving a common area with at least one common employee. For every station hit, there may be many other stations in the same cluster that will also need to provide information. These audits are continuing - the last being issued only a few months ago. So be prepared. Even if your station was not on this audit list, it might be on the next one.
The two reminders issued by the FCC yesterday may highlight a renewed emphasis on EEO by the new administration - so make sure that your hiring practices meet FCC requirements. Our memo setting out the basics of the FCC's EEO obligations for broadcasters can be found here. Our most recent reminder about the EEO Annual Public file report, due to be in the public file and on the website of stations on the anniversary of the filing of the license renewal in the state in which the station is licensed, can be found here.