The Federal Communications Commission is free to audit broadcast stations' and cable systems' compliance with new minority- and gender-recruiting rules that require them to establish and keep detailed records of their hiring-outreach programs.
The federal appeals court in Washington last week denied a petition by 45 state broadcaster associations to block the audits.
Elsewhere on the new hiring rules front, the FCC has extended the deadline for comment on lingering issues that must be wrapped up to fully implement the new recruiting rules, which were unveiled last month.
The new rules require broadcasters and cable systems to track and report to the FCC the gender and ethnic data of their employee ranks. That data will be used only to track industry trends--the FCC is forbidden from using the information to judge whether individual stations are complying with a requirement to conduct broad hiring outreach efforts.
The biggest open question is whether individual station data will be kept confidential. The state broadcasters associations have asked that stations' data be kept secret to prevent activist groups and individuals from using the information in discrimination lawsuits.
Comments on the issue, currently due on July 14, 2004, are now due July 29, 2004. The reply deadline has been extended from July 26, to August 9.