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NAB Challeges FCC's Form 395-B as Unconstitutional


Federal Communications Commission
Federal Communications Commission

The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) has submitted a Petition for Partial Reconsideration to the FCC, objecting to the recent decision to resume and publicize the collection of staff diversity data via Form 395-B. This form, which had been dormant for two decades, records broadcasters' employee demographics, including race, ethnicity and gender.

NAB contends that public disclosure of this data is a forced revelation of sensitive information, a violation of the First Amendment's strict scrutiny standards for compelled speech. The trade group also argues that the FCC's rationale for public disclosure-including enhancing data accuracy and promoting transparency-fails to justify the invasion of privacy and could be seen as merely a pretext.

The petition further highlights potential violations of the Fifth Amendment, suggesting that public access to such data may pressure broadcasters into preferential hiring practices to appease public or activist groups, potentially infringing on equal protection principles under the law.

Specific concerns were raised about the privacy and safety of non-binary employees, who might be subject to harassment or unwanted attention due to their demographic data being made public. NAB also challenges the FCC's authority to enforce these rules on radio stations, citing a misinterpretation of the Communications Act, which explicitly regulates television but not radio broadcasting.

As the FCC's Media Bureau awaits a review from the Office of Management and Budget under the Paperwork Reduction Act, NAB is calling for reconsideration of these requirements, proposing alternative data collection methods that respect privacy and avoid public disclosure.

The enforcement and compliance specifics for these revised data collection guidelines are pending, to be announced later by the FCC following the completion of the necessary reviews.

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