Anna Gomez Nominated for Vacant FCC Commissioner Seat

Posted on May 30th, 2023 by

President Biden has nominated Anna Gomez for the vacant FCC Commissioner seat, combining her nomination with that of Geoffrey Starks and Brendan Carr for renewed five-year terms.  Gomez is an attorney and previously served as legal advisor to FCC Chairman Bill Kennard and most recently served a stint on the NTIA addressing international spectrum use.  Her positions on broadcast matters are largely unknown.  A timeline for hearings in the Senate has not yet been announced, but we anticipate her approval by late summer at the earliest.

The addition of a third Democratically-appointed FCC Commissioner will likely move certain agenda items forward.  For broadcasters, the most immediate matter will probably be a Report & Order in the ongoing EEO proposed rulemaking that primarily focused on the reinstitution of EEO Form 395-B requiring broadcasters to report annually on the gender, race and ethnicity of its workforce.  The form was suspended over two decades ago when the FCC’s EEO rules were found unconstitutional, but never reinstated after the FCC adopted new broad outreach EEO requirements.  The rulemaking contemplates the possibility of the data being submitted on a confidential basis and not being specifically linked to a particular broadcast station or station employment unit.  The FCC is prohibited from using any collected data to take enforcement actions against stations, and plans to use the information to further its public interest goals surrounding broadcast ownership diversity.  NAB and others have supported reinstitution of the form, with exemptions for employers with over 100 employees who already submit similar information to the EEOC.

If Gomez is approved, we anticipate that the EEO rulemaking item will move forward in the fall, but approval of the new form will take some time.  Perhaps the earliest point for a rule requiring submission of Form 395-B data is approximately a year from now.