In Re Equal Employment Opportunities Inquiries Sent to Selected Stations in Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi
FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION
41 F.C.C.2d 599
JUNE 19, 1973
[*599] THE COMMISSION, BY COMMISSIONERS BURCH (CHAIRMAN), H. REX LEE, REID AND WILEY, WITH COMMISSIONER HOOKS CONCURRING, AND COMMISSIONER JOHNSON DISSENTING AND ISSUING A STATEMENT, ISSUED THE FOLLOWING NEWS RELEASE: EEO INQUIRIES SENT TO SELECTED STATIONS IN ARKANSAS, LOUISIANA, AND MISSISSIPPI.
Equal employment opportunity (EEO) inquiries have been sent to 19 stations in Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi following a review of their 1971-72 Annual Employment Reports (FCC Form 395). The license terms for these stations expired June 1, 1973.
The stations selected for review had more than ten fulltime employees, but no fulltime women employees, or showed a decline in their number. In areas with minority populations of 5 percent or more, they employed no fulltime members of minority groups or showed a decline in this category.
These are the same criteria used when the Commission reviewed the EEO programs of licensees in Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Maryland, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Alabama and Georgia.
The Commission deferred action on the renewal applications of the following stations, pending resolution of the inquiry.
KLRA, Little Rock, Ark.
KSLO, KSLO-FM, Opelousas, La.
KTLO, KTLO-FM, Mountain Home, Ark.
KXLR, North Little Rock, Ark.
WDAL, WDAL-FM, Meridian, Miss.
WELO, WELO-FM, Tupelo, Miss.
WJBO, WJBO-FM, Baton Rouge, La.
WJDX, WZZQ(FM), Jackson, Miss.
WOKK, WALT(FM), Meridian, Miss.
WVMI, WVMI-FM, Biloxi, Miss.
KPLC-TV, Lake Charles, La.
DISSENTING OPINION OF COMMISSIONER NICHOLAS JOHNSON
Four years after the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the FCC promulgated equal employment regulations for broadcasters, Nondiscrimination Employment Practices of Broadcast Licensees, 13 F.C.C. 2d 766 (1968); Nondiscrimination Employment Practices of [*600] Broadcast Licensees, 13 F.C.C. 2d 240 (1969); Nondiscrimination Employment Practices of Broadcast Licensees, 23 F.C.C. 2d 430 (1970).
The Commission issued a Public Notice in April 1971 that required its licensees to file an annual reporting form indicating the number of women, blacks, and other minorities employed by stations in various job categories (see 21 P. & F. Radio Reb. 2d 1728 (1971)). With the Pennsylvania-Delaware renewals last year, the Commission had its first opportunity to review each licensee's Equal Employment Opportunity Program (Sect. VI of FCC form 303) in conjunction with its 1971-1972 Annual Employment Reports (FCC form 395) and initiate corrective or punitive action where necessary. The Broadcast Bureau, however, had made no provision for analyzing or processing these reports.
On our own initiative my staff and I endeavored to examine these forms and evolve some standards which might be uniformly applied to stations found to have unacceptable employment records, Pennsylvania-Delaware Broadcasting Stations, 38 F.C.C. 2d 158 (1972). As a result of our research we proposed that the contrast between percentage of minorities in the community served by a station and the percentage of those minorities in the employ of a station in high-paying jobs be examined. The general standard, therefore, would be the rough parity between these groups. In my Pennsylvania-Delaware statement I suggested that any station employing less than the percentage of the local work force of a specific minority population receive a letter of inquiry. I even went so far as to suggest that the Commission might want to make the cut-off point one-half of that minority population that is in the local work force, and send letters to stations for which the form 395 shows less than that number of minority employees in high-paying positions.
I suggested, finally, that the most important comparison, the most meaningful one, was the percentage of the minority in question in high-paying jobs compared to the percentage of all employees in high-paying jobs. The obvious point for dispute is the cut-off point. Do you strive for a 1.00 relationship or do you drop down to 0.75, or even 0.50? In Pennsylvania-Delaware, the Commission chose to ignore all the suggested criteria and consider only those stations with ten or more employees, despite the fact that all stations with five or more full-time employees are required to file with the Commission.
In short, the criteria I itemized last year selectively identified those stations that reasonably could have been required to furnish explanations to the Commission regarding practices inconsistent with our equal employment rules.
In their August renewals action, the Commission directed the Broadcast Bureau to send equal employment opportunity letters to 30 stations which had ten or more employees and which:
(1) had no women employees, or showed a decline in the number of women employees from 1971 to 1972, or
(2) were in areas with a minority population of 5% or more and employed no blacks or showed a decline in the number of black employees from 1971 to 1972. [*601] The purpose of these letters was to solicit from the stations the reasons for their employment patterns. The standards employed in selecting those stations that would receive letters ignored many possible patterns of discrimination -- such as a station's refusal to employ minority group members and women in high-paying positions.
Once the station's responses started to pour in, the Commission was then faced with processing and analyzing them. Prepared for neither task, the Broadcast Bureau had no recourse but to accept, on face value, the responses received, and proceed with the granting of renewals.
In October 1972, Maryland, the District of Columbia, Virginia, and West Virginia renewals were considered by the Commission. Confronted with the specter of having to send out letters of inquiry to a large number of stations which had shown some decline in the number of women and blacks employed, the Commission majority backed down and advised the staff to reduce the number of stations to which letters of inquiry would be sent. It did so, and the result was that many stations falling below the standards adopted in August were not included in the mailing. I issued a dissenting statement to that action (see Equal Employment Opportunity Inquiries, FCC 92012, Nov. 10, 1972, F.C.C. 2d (1972)).
In their disposition of the Florida renewals in February 1972, the Commission majority refused even to send letters of inquiry to those stations whose employment practices raised serious questions under the current equal employment opportunity regulations. The majority approved the Broadcast Bureau's decision not to send letters to a substantial percentage of those stations which either did not employ minority group members or women or which had shown a decline in the number of such persons employed in the previous year. Aggravating this approval was the fact that the majority did not even think it necessary to inquire as to what methods used by the Bureau in the selection of those stations that were to receive letters. I issued a dissenting statement to that action (see Florida Renewals -- 1973, 39 F.C.C. 2d 1035 (1973)).
This procedure was again repeated in the Georgia-Alabama renewals in April of this year. There were a number of stations whose employment practices warranted a letter of inquiry at the very least. The majority again asked the Broadcast Bureau to reduce this list. The method of paring down the list was as arbitrary as the order to do so. I issued a dissenting statement to that action (see Georgia-Alabama Renewals -- 1973, FCC 00892, March 29, 1973, F.C.C. 2d (1973)).
Now we are faced with the June renewals -- Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi. Once again the Broadcast Bureau has conducted a review of 1971 and 1972 Annual Employment Reports to determine the stations to be selected for inquiry. According to previously established criteria, the staff claims to have selected for review stations having more than ten full-time employees and which:
(1) Had no full-time women employees, or showed a decline in the number of full-time women employees from 1971 to 1972; or
[*602] (2) Are in areas with a minority population of 5 per cent or more and employed no full-time blacks or showed a decline in black full-time employees from 1971 to 1972.
The staff found 46 stations which met these criteria. Ofthose 46, only 19 stations were selected for further inquiry.
If there were 46 stations in the above categories, then all 46 should at least receive letters of inquiry from the FCC. The methods used for paring down the original list can only serve to dilute the original intention of the filings and impede any progress that might have been made since last August.
The problem seems to be, therefore, one of degree. To what extent is the Commission willing to deal with this problem? The majority's action is sorrowfully indicative of their lack of commitment to any meaningful enforcement of equal employment practices in the broadcast industry.