Hiring for jobs in the media industry has evolved as rapidly as the industry itself. No longer is the local newspaper the only, or perhaps even the best, way to reach job seekers. Whether it is a company website, an employment search engine (such as CareerBuilder.com or Monster.com) or a niche site (such as allaccess.com or TVJobs.com), employees and employers increasingly are turning to the Internet. Under the FCC’s EEO rules, however, newspapers remain the “gold standard” for distributing job vacancy information. Commissioner O’Rielly would like to see that change. In a recent blog post, he called upon the Commission to embrace the Internet and update its EEO rules.
Among other requirements, the Commission’s EEO rules require broadcasters with five or more full-time employees to widely disseminate information about full-time job openings to their communities. Such dissemination can be accomplished via newspaper ads, or by distributing job vacancy information to colleges and universities, community organizations, or local broadcast associations (among others). However, the FCC has fined stations for relying solely on the Internet and “word of mouth” sources like walk-ins to recruit job candidates. As Commissioner O’Rielly pointed-out in his blog post, the Commission’s application of the wide-dissemination component of its EEO rules “is based on a remarkably outdated assessment of Internet deployment and access in the United States.” When the EEO rule was adopted in 2002, the Commission relied on a 2001 NTIA report that suggested 50 percent of U.S. households had Internet service. Today, however, NTIA data indicates that 99 percent of Americans have access to the Internet. Not only that, but since 2011 100 percent of public libraries have provided free internet access.
Accordingly, Commissioner O’Rielly voiced his support for Petitions for Reconsideration filed when the Commission adopted its current EEO rules that urged the Commission “to allow Internet distribution of job openings combined with aggressive notification to referral organizations that have affirmatively demonstrated they want to play a meaningful role in referring applicants to media companies with job openings.” (The Commission never acted on these Petitions for Reconsideration, and they remain pending today.)
Whether the Commission will heed Commissioner O’Rielly’s call to action remains to be seen. Given its recent Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to update the licensee-conducted contest rule to allow for more online disclosures, the timing seems right to update the wide-dissemination rule. We’ll keep you posted (using the Internet, of course).