Furchtgott-Roth Questions EEO Support

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Federal Communications Commission member Harold Furchtgott-Roth said Tuesday
that he was troubled by the National Cable Television Association's decision to
comply with the FCC's minority-employment rules even though a federal court had
invalidated them.

Furchtgott-Roth -- a Republican who is planning to leave the FCC when a
successor is confirmed -- added that he was similarly unhappy that Republican
FCC chairman Michael Powell issued a statement applauding the NCTA's stance.

Powell issued his statement after the NCTA board voted to continue to adhere
to FCC rules and to take other steps to advance minority employment in the cable

Powell spokesman David Fiske declined to comment on Furchtgott-Roth's

In January, a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia
Circuit stuck down FCC rules designed to promote the recruitment of women and
minorities in the broadcast and cable industries.

One FCC rule permitted broadcasters and cable operators to create their own
minority-recruitment programs, but they had to report to the FCC the race, sex
and source of referral of each applicant. The FCC promised to investigate any
filing that reported 'few or no' applications from woman or minorities.

As a result, the court said the rules were unconstitutional because they put
'official pressure' on licensees to adopt 'raced-based' classifications in their
hiring programs.

The NCTA supported the rules and declined to join 50 state broadcast
associations in their court appeal.

'This is unusual because we generally are in agreement with commissioner
Furchtgott-Roth,' NCTA spokesman David Beckwith said. 'The court invalidated the
rules because it was the government ordering these actions. The NCTA board
undertook the initiative on its own without so much as a conversation beforehand
with the government or anybody else.'

Furchtgott-Roth said the FCC should not endorse discriminatory employment
practices in the private sector even if the court decision applied only to
government action.

Beckwith said the cable industry's policy was aimed at broadening minority
employment without violating anyone's rights.

'No one is being discriminated against. We are merely expanding out
recruitment effort to make sure that we reach a wider pool,' he