FCC EEO proposal gets broad backing

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A total of 45 organizations -- including civil-rights groups, minority
journalists, the National Bar Association and the National Council of Churches
-- have endorsed 'most' of the Federal Communications Commission's proposal for
reinstating minority- and gender-recruiting rules for broadcasters and cable
systems.

In comments filed with the FCC this week, they did, however, call on the
commission to tighten the prospective obligations to require that top management
be responsible for implementing equal-employment-opportunity rules, require
certification that companies will not rely on word-of-mouth to fill job
vacancies and allow independent, nonprofit Web sites to be among the ways
companies can fulfill their outreach requirements.

The FCC is in the midst of its third attempt to draft recruiting rules that
will withstand court scrutiny.

The current plan would require stations and cable systems to provide job
notices for all vacancies to any organization that requests them. Plus, most
would be required to choose among a list of recruitment initiatives, such as job
fairs, internships and other community outreach.

The agency may also require companies to collect data on the ethnicity and
gender of applicants.

The FCC's original rules were struck down in 1998, and a revision was tossed
out in January 2001.

In the last court review, the judges found that the commission's plan to
review a company's applicant pool and order recruiting changes if it didn't like
the demographic mix created enough pressure on employers to constitute a de
facto illegal quota.

To avoid that snag, the FCC is proposing to only use the data to monitor
trends and report to Congress on industry progress.

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