MMTC Slams FCC For EEO Inaction

The Minority Media and
Telecom Council has asked the FCC to suspend its equal
employment opportunity rules (EEO) rules for three months.

But far from thinking
the FCC doesn't need such rules, the group is making the call to bring
attention to what it says is 12 months of inaction and the need to revamp the
FCC's EEO rules. "Nothing is lost by suspending it," says MMTC
Executive Director David Honig, "since as configured now it isn't
producing any benefits to the public or broadcasters."

In a letter to FCC
Chairman Julius Genachowski, Honig said that June 29 marked a year since
the last EEO decision--three in fact--but that even those had been
"leveled against a diverse broadcaster for technical rule

He says the last time
there was no EEO enforcement for a 12-month period was June 1968-June

"The decline
in EEO enforcement cannot be attributed to court decisions," said
Honig. "Instead they are an indication that EEO has been a low
priority at the Commission for far too long."

The FCC wants to make
sure its EEO initiatives and enforcement can survive judicial scrutiny
given the Adarand Supreme Court decision that "federal affirmative
action programs that use racial and ethnic criteria as a basis for
decision-making are subject to strict judicial scrutiny."

Honig minced no
words. "FCC EEO enforcement has no apparent mission, no focus, no
data for evaluation, and no results except sanctioning the innocent while
ignoring the guilty. Such a program only creates the false security that comes
when the constable is on duty yet asleep," he wrote.

He said the FCC should
suspend enforcement so that it can "revitalize and reaffirm" its

That, says Honig, should
include moving EEO staff from the Media Bureau to the Enforcement Bureau,
triple the number of staffers, increase the number of EEO audits, and much

"The letter is a timely reminder about the importance of the FCC exercising really credible EEO oversight," said Commissioner and former acting Chairman Michael Copps, who has been a longtime advocate for strong EEO enforcement.

A spokesperson for the
Media Bureau had no comment on MMTC's criticisms.

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.