EEO Employment Reports
On June 4, 2004, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) released its Third Report and Order and Fourth Notice of Proposed Rulemaking addressing the annual Equal Employment Opportunity (“EEO”) employment report forms which collect data on the race, ethnicity and gender of the workforce of cable operators and broadcasters. The FCC did not release the actual forms, previously used to collect employment trend data for Congress, with its Report and Order. These forms, Form 395-A for cable operators and Form 395-B for broadcasters, are due September 30th of each year, but the 2004 filing deadline for these reports will be altered to a date still to be determined by the Commission due to the fact that the true forms were not released.
Cable operators are required by federal statute to annually file this report with the FCC and to have this report available for public inspection. The FCC is requiring broadcasters to file this report under the federal law that directs the FCC to maintain EEO rules for television broadcast stations and its general authority over all broadcast licensees.
The FCC stated that the form will request information only regarding the race and gender make-up of the operator or broadcaster’s current workforce, and will be used only to report to Congress on trends in the industries. The information on the forms will not be used to assess compliance with the FCC’s EEO rules. The forms will substantially reflect portions of the forms previously used, and will be revised mainly to reflect current government classifications on race, ethnicity and job categories.
On the Form 395-A and 395-B, the cable operator or broadcaster will select one pay period in July, August or September and report on its workforce composition during that pay period. Although the 2004 filing deadline for these reports is undecided at this time, the information requested will be for operator workforce information for the selected pay period in these summer months. We will keep you apprised of the 2004 filing deadline once it is established.
As stated above, by law, cable operators must make this report publicly available. Broadcasters, on the other hand, are not specifically directed by federal law to make this report public. Further, a new law, entitled the Confidential Information Protection and Statistical Efficiency Act of 2002, allows government agencies to collect information for statistical purposes under a pledge of confidentiality. Broadcasters have requested that the FCC make the Form 395-B submitted to the FCC confidential. The FCC has solicited comment on this issue for both cable and broadcast operators. Comments on this issue of confidentiality will be due 21 days after the Report and Order is published in the Federal Register. Please let us know if you would like to participate in this further proceeding regarding the confidentiality of these reports at the FCC.