FCC Commissioner Geoffrey Starks was a speaker at the NAB’s Board of Directors meeting in Miami this week. One of the topics he spent a considerable amount of time on was EEO. Starks said, “America’s broadcasters should look like America.”
He said that local media should reflect the local communities it’s bound to serve, but it’s not just ownership numbers that need attention. Starks said the FCC is failing to make good on its mandate to collect EEO data from broadcasters. “It is still not clear to me how, for nearly twenty years, the FCC ignored Congress’ will by not collecting this information. That means we have had zero visibility into the diversity of station management and news and production teams.” Starks says he will work hard to reopen the issue so the FCC gets the data.
He also said he’s heartened by legislation in the House calling for the Commission to complete its rulemaking on the EEO rules that has been pending for over 15 years to restart the collection and report on its analysis of the data to Congress on a regular basis.
And Starks added that he disagrees with the argument that collecting EEO data or adopting meaningful policies to promote diversity would be unconstitutional. “First, collecting and analyzing data is a ministerial function that is necessary for the FCC, as an expert agency, to have a better understanding of the industries that we regulate. Second, we have a direct order from the Third Circuit Court to implement a data program that would help understand the impact of our regulatory efforts on the ability of women and people of color to own stations.