After two decades with the FCC “no longer new” EEO rules, a lot of broadcasters have eased off strict compliance with the rules due to both staffing and time constraints. A case just released by the FCC shows us that can be a costly error and that it pays to be on your toes regarding FCC EEO rules.
In a case just released, the FCC fined a broadcaster $25,000 for EEO violations. The case serves as a stark reminder to broadcasters not to ease up on their EEO responsibilities and train all your staff to be aware of this responsibility.
On October 16, 2023, the FCC Enforcement Bureau issued a Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture and proposed a $25,000 fine against Rocking M Media, LCC (“Rocking M”) and Melia Communications, Inc. (“Melia”) for failure to comply with the FCC’s equal employment opportunity (“EEO”) rules.
The FCC found that Rocking M and Melia both violated the EEO rules by failing to upload their annual EEO public file reports in their respective online public inspection files and websites, broadly recruit for certain vacancies, maintain their recruitment records, and analyze their EEO program.
In this age of the internet, It’s important to comply with the broad recruitment standard and to understand what will qualify for the FCC’s standards. In these cases, the FCC found that recruitment solely through on-air advertisements on the station and internal recommendations violated EEO rules because the advertisements would only reach those listening to the station at a particular time rather than reach the entire community, and an internal recommendation is not recruitment as contemplated by the EEO rules because recruitment requires public outreach.
This case demonstrates the need to adhere to the FCC’s broad recruitment rules to ensure that all qualified individuals in the community have an opportunity to apply for and be considered as a job applicant. On-air advertisements through one’s own station and internal recommendations fall short in achieving broad outreach and will leave broadcasters subject to heavy fines. Additionally, EEO public file reports must show the necessary documentation of Prong 3 menu options and outreach implemented. Broadcasters must remember to keep written records to demonstrate proper participation. The standard is that if it’s not in writing, it didn’t happen. This case is a reminder of the FCC’s stringent enforcement of EEO rules and underscores how broadcasters must diligently comply with broad public outreach, maintain accurate documentation, and ensure timely adherence to the rules to avoid costly penalties.
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