FCC Transfers EEO Oversight From Media Bureau to Enforcement Bureau
The FCC announced that EEO audit and enforcement responsibilities have been moved from the Media Bureau to the Enforcement Bureau. The announcement emphasized that the move will enhance enforcement by a Bureau that has “extensive experience conducting investigations and pursuing media enforcement actions.” While the current EEO staff will move to the Enforcement Bureau, they will now be working with and under FCC staff who are very much oriented to rule enforcement and penalties for lapses.
This move seems designed at least in part to counter public interest group charges that the Commission’s EEO enforcement has been lax and inconsistent. The timing suggests that licensees may expect tougher review of forthcoming EEO audits and of EEO showings in the next round of license renewal applications. The three-year renewal cycle for radio starts June 1, 2019, with the last applications due by February 1, 2022. The renewal cycle for television starts and ends one year later.
Stations with five or more fulltime employees must recruit widely for each position, keep track of the referral sources for applicants who are interviewed and hired, and participate in and document EEO outreach activities, with a minimum of two or four every two years, depending on market and staff size.