EEO Mid-Term Review Anticipated Starting May 2023

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.

Courtesy Fletcher, Heald & Hildreth