From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
UCC advocacy group challenges FCC to conduct random EEO audits
Wed, 28 Apr 2004 15:47:02 -0400
United Church of Christ In Washington, D.C.,
In Cleveland: Gloria Tristani, OC, Inc.
The Rev. Robert Chase, press contact (202) 263-2586
web <www.ucc.org> For immediate release
April 28, 2004
[EDITORS AND PRODUCERS: THE FULL TEXT
THE FCC LETTER FOLLOWS THIS RELEASE]
Church communication advocacy group challenges FCC to conduct random EEO
Random audits and targeted licensee investigations should have begun in
CLEVELAND ?? A lead communication advocacy group today (April 28)
challenged the Federal Communications Commission to keep its promise to
initiate equal employment opportunity random audits and targeted
investigations of licensees in radio and television. The FCC had publicly
pledged to do so, beginning March 10, 2003.
The challenge came in the form of a letter to FCC Chair, the Hon.
Michael K. Powell, from the Office of Communication of the United Church of
Christ, Inc. (OC, Inc.), a communication advocacy office begun in the 1960s
by the United Church of Christ. The letter was signed by the Rev. Robert
Chase, Executive Director of OC, Inc., and former FCC Commissioner Gloria
Tristani, now Managing Director of OC, Inc.
"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 cites an article in the July/August 2003 issue of The
Communicator (published by the Radio-Television News Directors Association
[RTNDA]). Research shows that, since 2002, the percentage of persons of
color employed at broadcast stations has fallen significantly. RTNDA
attributes this slide to the temporary suspension by the FCC of its EEO
"Discrimination operates much like tax cheating, cigarette smuggling
and drug trafficking: it is done covertly, so that almost all of it escapes
detection," said OC, Inc. Executive Director Chase. "Although the FCC
lifted the EEO rules suspension in 2003, covert discrimination will
continue without proper safeguards in place."
"Even a 'little' employment discrimination should be unacceptable,"
said Chase. "What does discrimination do? It limits the talent pool of
applicants and therefore limits the economic potential, not only of the
applicants but for the stations as well. It drives bright, creative people
away from an industry whose very health is dependent upon talent and
All of the FCC Commissioners were sent copies of the letter.
The United Church of Christ is a mainline Protestant denomination of
1.3 million members and almost 6,000 local congregations in the United
States and Puerto Rico. The Office of Communication of the United Church of
Christ, Inc. has continuously supported equal employment opportunity rules
for the broadcast. In 1967, it filed a petition that led to the original
FCC EEO rules.
# # #
[EDITORS AND PRODUCERS: Here is the complete text of the letter sent to FCC
Chair Michael K. Powell from the Rev. Robert Chase, Executive Director,
Office of Communication of the United Church of Christ, Inc.; and former
FCC Commissioner Gloria Tristani, Managing Director, OC, Inc.]
"Dear Chairman Powell:
"We ask that the Commission immediately commence equal employment
opportunity random audits and targeted investigations of licensees in the
radio and television services. We also ask that the audits and targeted
investigations be conducted on-site to ensure that the audited licensees'
representations that they conducted broad recruitment can be fully
verified. Moreover, we ask that the current radio and television licensing
renewal cycles be held in abeyance until the Commission commences the EEO
"In Review of the Commission's Broadcast and Cable Equal Employment
Opportunity Rules and Policies (Second Report and Order and Third Notice of
Proposed Rulemaking), MM Docket No. 98-204, 16 FCC Rcd 24018, 24066 6155
(released on November 20, 2002 and effective March 10, 2003) ("Second
Report and Order"), the Commission stated:
'We will also monitor EEO compliance through random audits and targeted
investigations resulting from information received as to possible
Each year we will select for audit approximately five percent of all
the radio and television services, ensuring that, even though the
radio licensees is significantly larger than television licensees, both
represented in the audit process' (emphasis added).
"The Commission also stated it would review a licensee's compliance with
the EEO Rule at renewal time. Id.
"It has been over seventeen months since the Commission stated it would
conduct audits, and thirteen months since that promise became effective.
In year 2003, the Commission did not initiate a single audit of a licensee.
As of April 15, 2004, the Commission had not initiated a single audit of a
licensee, let alone initiated a targeted investigation.
"During the thirteen month period, many parties that have in the past
monitored and reviewed different licensees' compliance with the EEO Rule at
renewal time, relinquished that opportunity in reliance on the Commission's
promise to conduct random EEO audits and targeted investigations. During
that same time period, radio licenses expired in Maryland, Washington,
D.C., Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia,
Florida, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. Radio licenses in Arkansas,
Louisiana and Mississippi are due to expire on June 1, 2004; radio licenses
in Indiana, Tennessee and Kentucky are due to expire on August 1, 2004; and
radio licenses in Ohio and Michigan are due to expire on October 1, 2004.
The television license renewal cycle is about to commence and television
licenses in Washington, D.C., Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia are due
to expire on October 1, 2004.
"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.
Such conduct flies in the face of the Commission's own statements of how
"[w]e take the EEO rules and obligations we establish here very seriously,
and fully expect broadcasters and MVPDs to do the same." Id. at 24067 6
157. Such conduct is also not in keeping with the Commission's commitment
to equal employment opportunity and diversity. Only last year, you renewed
that commitment by establishing the Advisory Committee On Diversity For
Communications In The Digital Age.
"As you are aware, the United Church of Christ ("UCC") has had a long
partnership with the Commission in the quest for equal employment
opportunity. Indeed it was UCC who filed the petition that led to the
original EEO rules. The UCC, a main-line Protestant Church of more than
1.4 million members in almost 6,000 congregations in every state and Puerto
Rico ? has continuously supported equal employment opportunity rules for
the broadcast industry to ensure that all segments of our society have
access to job opportunities in this vital and powerful industry. It is a
question of justice.
"It is also a question of vigorous monitoring and enforcement of the
Commission's EEO Rule. The latest numbers on minority employment in the
radio and television news as reported by Bob Papper in "Women & Minorities:
One Step Forward and Two Steps Back, The Communicator (RTNDA, July/August,
2003) are dismal and dropping dramatically:
"Job Category % Minority % Minority % Minority % Minority
1994 2001 2002 2003
Total TV News Workforce 17.1% 24.6% 20.6% 18.1%
Total Radio News Workforce 14.7% 10.7% 8.0%
TV News Directors 7.9% 8.0% 9.2% 6.6%
Radio News Directors 8.6% 4.4% 5.1% 5.0%
TV General Managers n/a 8.7% 5.2% 3.6%
Radio General Managers n/a 5.7% 3.8% 2.5%
"RTNDA attributed the beginning of the relentless slide in minority
employment in radio to the suspension of the Commission's EEO rules - a
suspension was lifted in 2003 with the release of the Second Report and
"The time has past for the Commission to be "very serious" about monitoring
and enforcing the EEO Rule. We again ask that the Commission immediately
commence EEO random audits and targeted investigations, do this on-site,
and hold the radio and television license renewal cycles in abeyance until
the audit process has begun.
The Rev. Robert Chase
Office of Communication of the
United Church of Christ, Inc.
Office of Communication of the
United Church of Christ, Inc."
# # #
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