Kathleen Victory

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Ms. Victory has nearly twenty-five years experience handling complex business transactions, as well as corporate, and financing matters. She also represents clients in administrative, rulemaking, licensing and compliance proceedings before the FCC.

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EEO Audits Announced; FCC Eases Burdens, But For Whom?

Some filing requirements have been reduced, but underlying recordkeeping remains unchanged.

It's that time again. The FCC has announced its first round of random 2013 EEO audits to radio and television stations. And this year the Commission tells us that it’s trying to make life easier for the licensees who made the list. You might want to take that claim with a grain of salt, though.

Each year, the FCC audits approximately five percent of all radio and television stations, with the lucky stations selected randomly. (Here’s a list of this year’s selectees.) The goal of this spot-check ritual is presumably to keep everybody on their toes and ever-mindful of their ongoing EEO obligations. Those obligations require broadcast employment units with five or more full-time employees to recruit broadly for minority and female applicants for all job openings. “Recruiting broadly” entails (among other things) distributing notices of openings to multiple potential sources of referrals. The FCC also expects licensees to maintain detailed records of those recruitment efforts.

Historically, audited stations have been required to respond to the audit letter by submitting a lot of paperwork.  What’s a lot? Think dated copies of every notice (including advertisements, bulletins, letters, faxes, emails . . . you get the drift) sent to every one of the station's employment sources for every job opening that occurred during the period covered by the last two annual EEO public file reports. And for on-air ads, don’t forget dated log sheets for each time the ad ran. (Stations with fewer than five full-time employees in the relevant employment unit were spared the burden of sending all this paperwork in.)

But things are different this year.

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Lucky 13?

Channel 13 leaves VHF ranks, migrates to UHF, according to some FCC reg fee materials

Here’s another CommLawBlog Reg Fee Tip: if you received one of the FCC’s snail mail reg fee notices, be sure to take it with a grain of salt. It has come to our attention that the fees indicated in those notices may be wrong. 

Not wrong as in incomplete because, say, they didn’t include fees for auxiliary licenses and the like. We knew about that problem (and have mentioned it here before).

No, we’re talking wrong as in, um, wrong. In particular, a number of TV licensees operating on Channel 13(maybe even all Channel 13 stations – we haven’t checked with everybody) have received notices advising them that they owe a reg fee calculated on the basis of the fact that they are operating on a UHF channel. (For any Doubting Thomases, here’s an example, from which we have redacted the identity of the specific station/licensee. We have more where this came from.)  

Hmmmm. Last time we looked, Channel 13 – i.e., the space on the RF spectrum encompassing 210-216 MHz – was in the VHF band, at least as that band is defined by, e.g., the International Telecommunication Union. And the FCC has historically taken the same position (probably because it’s got to, physics being what they are and also being as how the U.S. has been a member of the ITU for more than 100 years now). So unless there’s been some phenomenal warp in the spacetime continuum – like, maybe, a wormhole or something – that might have resulted in Channel 13 growing little RF legs and scurrying over to the UHF band, it’s safe to assume that 13 is still a V and any FCC notice suggesting the contrary is incorrect.

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