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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 Chairman William E. Kennard

Today we adopt EEO rules for the twenty-first century.

It is very appropriate that we adopt these rules in a week that we began by honoring the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

These rules help further Dr. King's dream of a colorblind society. While many of us share this dream, we are not there yet. If we were there, we would not be having a national dialogue about the virtual absence of minorities in prime time television.

The dream will not be realized until women and minorities have an equal opportunity both in front of the camera and behind it, as well as in boardrooms and executive suites.

This order advances the twin goals of prohibiting discrimination in hiring and promoting diversity on the public's airwaves.

The only good approach to discrimination is zero tolerance. I know many broadcasters and cable operators share this approach. I commend them for their efforts and thank them for their support.

But I think it is no mere coincidence that the adoption of EEO rules in 1969 was followed by a steady and very substantial increase among broadcasters in the percentage of upper-level jobs held by minorities and women. The EEO rules before us will continue the Commission's proud tradition of ensuring that broadcasters reach out to all segments of their community when it comes to seeking new hires.

These rules also reaffirm the Commission's long-standing obligation and commitment to ensuring that the public airwaves reflect the diversity of the public itself. The goals of diversity and non-discrimination must be pursued in front of the TV camera as well as behind it.

These rules reflect a common sense manner of pursuing these important goals. These rules also are carefully crafted to follow the letter and the spirit of the court's opinion in the Lutheran Church case.

Broadcasters and cable entities are thus given substantial flexibility to mold an outreach program that fits their individual circumstances and communities. What works in one community might not be effective in another.

But in all communities the outreach must be real, it must be effective, and it must serve the public by being all-inclusive.

I know that there are many who wanted us to go further, or to conduct studies to document the current status of minority hiring and diversity on the air and take any appropriate remedial action.

These parties should note that we are keeping the docket in this proceeding open, so that any relevant studies and information can be filed with us and called to our attention in a specific docketed proceeding.

And while I am pleased that we are moving ahead, I had hoped we could do more.

For example, under the order as proposed, broadcasters who elect Option B must track race and gender data of their applicants, but not of those who actually interview for the job. Simply tracking who applies for a job only gives you part of the picture, because it does not show whether the outreach program is producing qualified applicants from all segments of the community. Obviously it is up to the broadcaster to determine who is qualified, but it is only after the applicant pool is whittled down to a qualified applicant pool can the effectiveness of the outreach be determined.

In this respect, we should have gone further.

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