FCC Extends EEO Comment Deadlines

The FCC has extended the comment period for its request for input on how it could improve its EEO enforcement and compliance. 

It has set an initial comment date of Aug. 21 and a reply date of Sept. 5. Those dates are now Sept. 20 and Nov. 4.

The Multicultural Media, Telecom and Internet Council (MMTC) had asked for those new dates, saying its fall fellowships did not begin until early September and it wanted the fellows to be able to participate. It also asked for an expansion of the FCC's time for reply comments from 15 days to 45 days, saying the former was insufficient given the interest in the issue. 

The FCC does not routinely grant extensions, as it points out, though it is not stingy with them either when it concludes there is good cause--deadlines around holidays or industry conventions for example.

Also the length of the reply comment period, an extension of 30 days--is not routine either.

But the FCC said MMTC had made a convincing case for both. 

Under a remand by a federal court, the FCC is required to consider the impact of its policies on broadcast diversity when undertaking its upcoming quadrennial review of media ownership rules.

FCC chair Ajit Pai recently signaled he had no plans to re-institute the form 395-B data collection of the racial makeup and gender of broadcast staffs (), as Democrats have pushed for, but suggested he is not alone in his issues with that form.

It has been well over a decade since the FCC collected information (form 395-B) from broadcasters on the gender and diversity of their staffs--stretching over Republican and Democratic administrations--a point the FCC's Democratic commissioners made back in February when the FCC voted to eliminate an EEO reporting form.

The holdup has been whether or not to keep that info confidential, with the data collection suspended since 2004. The Dems say that should have been resolved by now, and should be resolved, and the form reinstated, before the FCC weighs in again on diversity, as Pai had signaled it will do in the Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on EEO compliance and enforcement whose deadlines the FCC has just extended.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.