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FCC Lax on EEO, Says UCC

The United Church of Christ has called on the Federal Communications Commission to begin random equal-employment-opportunity audits and to hold up renewing any more station licenses until it starts doing so.

In a letter to FCC Chairman Michael Powell (copied to the other commissioners), Former FCC Commissioner Gloria Tristani, now managing director of UCC, and executive director, the Rev. Robert Chase, complained that the FCC had not initiated any such audits, although it pledged to do so in March 2003.

The FCC promised to randomly audit some 5% of radio and TV stations annually, as well as check compliance at renewal time.

"As of April 15, 2004, the Commission had not initiated a single audit of a licensee, let alone initiated a targeted investigation," said the letter. "It is a travesty that so many licenses have been or are soon to be renewed without the Commission conducting a single EEO audit or investigation. We ask that the Commission  hold the radio and television license renewal cycles in abeyance until the audit process has begun."

The letter cited an August 2003 Radio-Television News Directors Association survey that found that minority employment at broadcast stations had fallen off "significantly" since 2002.

An FCC Media Bureau spokesman had not returned calls at press time.