Written by Lee Foley
The Federal Communications Commission, on a unanimous 4-0 vote at its Nov. 7 meeting, adopted new equal employment opportunity (EEO) rules governing broadcasters and cable and satellite service providers.
The commission action ends a year-long effort spearheaded by the Office of Communication of the United Church of Christ, Inc. and likeminded public interest advocates to have the new EEO regulations enacted.
O.C., Inc. Executive Director, the Rev. Robert Chase, testified before the FCC in support of the new EEO rules in late August. "For us, this has always been a question of justice and integral to the public interest," he said after the FCC decision. "These new rules help insure that women and people of color will have access to decisionmaking positions in the broadcast and cable industries."
The new rules replace EEO requirements for broadcast, cable and satellite companies that were struck down by the U.S. Court of Appeals in early 2001.
It was O.C., Inc., under the direction of the Rev. Everett Parker back in 1967, that filed the original petition for EEO regulation, adopted by the FCC in 1969, which remained in effect until last year's court action.
"The FCC's straightforward new rules will contribute substantially to the diversity and competitiveness of our electronic mass media industries," Parker said, upon hearing of the commission's decision.
O.C., Inc. was created by the UCC as a separate corporation in 1959 to work on behalf of the public interest, particularly for people of color and women. In addition to its now twice-successful efforts to have EEO regulations adopted, it has led the fight before the FCC for fair and unbiased news coverage. Through precedentsetting court action, it has forced the loss of license for those broadcasters not providing such coverage.
In addition, OC, Inc. has battled to ensure minimum hours of children's programming and worked in neighborhoods to educate and help people secure responsible, quality and community-based programming at fair rates from their cable providers. Most recently, it was largely responsible for the FCC's decision to make available to church and neighborhood groups licenses to operate low-power FM radio stations.
In addition to its continuing surveillance of the electronic media, O.C., Inc. currently is working to establish means of ensuring easy and affordable access for all people to emerging technologies