MMTC Rips FCC On EEO, Asks For Suspension Of Rules After Year Of Inaction
June 29, 2010 at 4:25 PM (PT)
The MINORITY MEDIA AND TELECOMMUNICATIONS COUNCIL has asked the FCC for a three-month suspension of the broadcast EEO rules. The MMTC, in a letter by Pres./Exec. Dir. DAVID HONIG to FCC Chairman JULIUS GENACHOWSKI, is asking for the suspension to mark a full year without a single EEO decision by the Commission.
"Whether measured in caseload or in forfeiture amounts, EEO enforcement has dropped to one percent (1%) of where it stood from 1994-1997," noted HONIG. "The last 12-month period in which there was no EEO enforcement was JUNE 1968 through JUNE 1969 -- before the Commission adopted its EEO rule. The decline in EEO enforcement cannot be attributed to court decisions. Instead they are an indication that EEO has been a low priority at the Commission for far too long."
HONIG charged that "The EEO audit program is a meaningless exercise in paperwork and postage. Virtually all licensees pass. The Commission has not found that a single station audited engaged in discrimination; thus, discriminators have been passing their audits with ease. A 2009 MMTC study of 20 randomly selected, racially diverse radio markets found that 40 out of 141 reporting units (28.4%) did not use minority sources -- including, e.g., seven of the 14 reporting licensees in RIVERSIDE-SAN BERNADINO (population 52.2% African American and Hispanic). Yet the FCC’s audits -- over the course of five years -- have identified at only 24 licensees in the nation that supposedly were not compliant. If there is a saving grace, it is that a station only experiences one of these audits once every 20 years."
"In short," concluded HONIG, "FCC EEO enforcement has no apparent mission, no focus, no data for evaluation, and no results except sanctioning the innocent while ignoring the guilty. Such a program only creates the false security that comes when the constable is on duty yet asleep."
The letter offered "Ten Ways to Improve the FCC EEO Enforcement Program During its Suspension." They were:
* moving EEO enforcement to the Enforcement Bureau;
* tripling the number of EEO enforcement staff;
* revising the EEO rules as recommended by the Diversity Committee;
* adopting the Form 395 annual employment reports;
* quintupling the percentage of licensees audited each year, with some of the audits including on-site review of hard-copy documentation, and
* revising the audit instrument so that it uncovers discriminatory applicant screening at the points of recruitment, interviewing and selection;
* making sure the Office of General Counsel tracks EEO cases to avoid statute of limitations mistakes or renewing a license while an EEO audit is underway;
* investigating whether licensees engage in the discriminatory practice of relying on word-of-mouth recruitment from a homogeneous workforce;
* ensuring that broadcasters with very diverse workforces are not penalized anymore under the EEO program;
* and working with the EEOC to update the agencies’ Memorandum of Understanding to ensure that the FCC will special-audit licensees and report its findings to the EEOC and the public.
When the EEOC receives a serious complaint of discrimination by a broadcaster, the FCC will special-audit the licensee; and designating an Administrative Law Judge to conduct an inquiry into "how minorities came to be purged from radio journalism and why minority representation in television journalism is in decline."
The letter also asks for the formation of an EEO Task Force and that GENACHOWSKI deliver "a major address affirming your commitment to diversity in all communications industries."