We remind radio licensees that Spring marks the mid-point of the current license term for some. This mid-point is significant because it marks the beginning of the period during which the FCC will conduct mid-term reviews to determine compliance with EEO requirements for radio station employment units that employ 11 or more full-time employees.
Even though broadcast licensees are no longer required to file a mid-term EEO report, we anticipate that FCC staff will closely adhere to the language it used in the 2019 Report and Order eliminating the mid-term report requirement.
- Specifically, that Report and Order stated that the FCC “will continue to conduct mid-term reviews even in the absence of Form 397.”
- In addition, the FCC’s EEO Frequently Asked Questions states, “When the need to conduct mid-term reviews of stations’ EEO programs arises again in 2023, Commission staff will conduct the reviews using publicly available information” – which clearly refers to the Online Public Inspection File.
We emphasize that eliminating the mid-term EEO report filing requirement does not mean the Commission’s standards for mid-term reviews or broadcasters’ compliance with the substantive EEO rules have changed either.
Accordingly, radio licensees that (a) have 11 or more full-time employees and (b) have stations in the following states should review their Online Public Inspection Files and EEO filings before the mid-term, and make corrections or revisions where necessary:
However, the 2019 Report and Order also indicated that there would be a simple mechanism in the Online Public Inspection File to specify whether a station employment unit had 5-10 full-time employees (rather than 11 or more). Such a mechanism has not yet been implemented, but stay tuned for an update on that. With the mid-term periods quickly approaching, we anticipate the FCC will take action soon.
TV licensees should not rest on their laurels for long, as the first mid-term reviews for them will begin approximately in June 2024. Note that more TV licensees will be covered, as the threshold number of full-time employees is lower. Mid-term reviews follow the same schedule long-established for license renewal applications, and for both radio and TV licensees, the review period will begin on the fourth anniversary of the filing deadline for the last renewal application.