Pai Signals There Are No Plans to Reinstitute Diversity Reporting Form

FCC chair Ajit Pai has signaled he has 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 suggests he is not alone in his issues with that form.

"I have serious constitutional and statutory concerns," he said in a letter to Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Rep. Yvette Clark (D-N.Y.) "These concerns have been shared by Commission leadership under both Democratic and Republican Administrations, which is why the Commission has not adopted these reforms over the past decade and a half."

Those legislators had called on the FCC in "any conversation regarding the FCC’s EEO practice" to "contemplate the full reinstatement of Form 395-B, which is essential to allow the Commission to fulfill a long-ignored statutory mandate to collect data about broadcast workforce diversity.”

That conversation is about a draft Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that would seek comment on improving EEO compliance and enforcement.

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 has signaled it will do via that Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on EEO compliance and enforcement.

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.