Second 2022 Broadcast Station EEO Audit Announced

Posted on August 31st, 2022 by

On August 19, 2022, the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau announced a second round of EEO Audits for this calendar year.  Unlike the March 2022 audit, which included 280 broadcast television and radio stations, this audit includes only 152 stations.  The notice and list of stations can be found here.  Stations on the list have until October 7, 2022 to respond.  Stations no longer have to mail documents to the FCC to respond to EEO audits – an upload to the station public file by the deadline is sufficient.

In the past, the Bureau staff reviewed the submissions and either asked for more information or issued an “all clear” letter to the station. With this EEO Audit, the FCC has, for the first time, stated that it will no longer issue letters to stations upon completion of its audit response reviews.  As a result, the only contact a station may receive from the staff is if there is a question during their review.  We have no idea what prompted this change in policy.  From a legal perspective, we considered the “all clear” letters essential to concluding that a station’s EEO program was compliant.  Without those, a station will not know when review is complete and will only be able to surmise, based upon the absence of staff contact, that all must be well with their program.  Let’s just say that we see this as less than optimum.

Unless exempt from having to respond, stations on the audit list are required to post the audit letter, response, and later correspondence in the EEO Audits folder of the public file, and maintain it there through the end of the station license term.

EEO audits require locating and submitting a substantial amount of documentation unless a station employment unit is exempt because it has fewer than five full-time employees, completed an earlier audit, or because of its status as a religious broadcaster.  Stations should start early to ensure there is enough time to completely respond.

Even if your station is not on the list, now is a good time to cross-check your EEO obligations, record-keeping, and public file reports.  Is your SEU retaining dated records of all job postings/announcements?  Are you periodically evaluating and, if necessary, updating the sources used to recruit candidates for job vacancies?  Can you tell from your records which sources produced interviewees and how many, and then which source produced the interviewee that was ultimately hired?  Do you have documentation of the menu option activities the SEU completed?  Do you know which employees participated in those activities?  For non-exempt stations, all of this and more is required to respond to an EEO audit.