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This is an unofficial announcement of Commission action. Release of the full text of a Commission order constitutes official action. See MCI v. FCC. 515 F 2d 385 (D.C. Circ 1974).

January 20, 2000

In the Matter of Review of the Commission's Broadcast and Cable Equal Employment Opportunity Rules and Policies and Termination of the EEO Streamlining Proceeding,
MM Dockets Nos. 98-24, 96-16.

Press Statement of Commissioner Harold W. Furchtgott-Roth

In the Lutheran Church case, the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled that this Commission's Equal Employment Opportunity regulations denied the equal protection of the laws to persons seeking employment at broadcast stations. Those regulations also made broadcasters, the Court said, "involuntary participant[s] in a discriminatory scheme." To enforce a program that requires regulatees to engage in the most historically odious sort of discrimination -- discrimination based on race -- is a most grievous offense.

After careful consideration, I am not persuaded that the Commission's efforts to conform these regulations to the requirements of Equal Protection -- and thus to avoid committing this offense again -- are adequate. The revised regulations bear some of the same characteristics that led the Court of Appeals to find the original rules unconstitutional. In particular, the Commission's continued insistence on requiring broadcasters to classify applicants and employees based on their race and gender, factors that should be irrelevant to a person's job qualifications, is legally troublesome.

Perhaps, at the end of the day, the Commission will successfully defend these regulations against the claim that they do not afford equal protection to all people. Because I cannot conclude that the rules are free from reasonable constitutional doubt, however, I cannot support their adoption. I therefore dissent from this item.

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