A recent decision by the FCC regarding the filing of EEO Annual Reports is worth your consideration. As you know, the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau, not the Media Bureau, is now in charge of EEO enforcement. This has meant stricter EEO enforcement. A recent fine for failing to file one report is a perfect example.
Going forward, the FCC will view the failure to file an Annual EEO Report as more than an administrative error on the part of the station. The failure to file a timely report will be construed as affecting a station’s ability to properly evaluate and review its EEO program. Compiling the report by itself will not be sufficient. In its recent decision, the Commission noted:
“Merely compiling an Annual Report without also posting it to publicly accessible locations may, in certain circumstances (such as those present here), prevent the Stations from fulfilling their obligation to analyze their recruitment program “on an ongoing basis” in response to public input. The Annual Report constitutes the only public record summarizing a station’s recruitment program under FCC EEO rules for that 12-month period and its label, “annual EEO public file report,” signifies an important purpose is review by both the Commission and the public. Public input, initiated on the basis of an Annual Report, can be instrumental in the evaluation of a licensee’s effectiveness in achieving broad outreach to potential applicants and ensuring that any problems can be addressed on a timely basis...
Going forward, Cumulus and all other licensees are on notice that the Commission in the future will consider the timeliness of posting an Annual Report to the public inspection file, including specifically the length of time constituting a failure to timely post such a report, as one factor among the totality of circumstances indicating whether a Station has met its obligations under our section 73.2080(c)(3) EEO self-assessment rule.”
This is a significant shift in the FCC’s enforcement policy. If a station does not file a timely Annual EEO report, it may be held liable for a violation of the FCC’s underlying EEO rules. This can result in significant fines. Stations are cautioned to make sure they upload their Annual EEO Reports on time.
You can see the FCC’s decision here.