Catholic Broadcasters Push Back Against FCC’s ‘Race and Gender Scorecard’ Mandate

The FCC rules have already come under fire from one of the agency’s own commissioners for caving ‘to the demands of activist groups’ and pressuring businesses into ‘making decisions based on race and gender.’

AP/Jacquelyn Martin
The seal of the Federal Communications Commission. AP/Jacquelyn Martin

Catholic radio groups are pushing back against the Federal Communications Commission’s new workforce rules requiring broadcasters to report data on non-binary employees, arguing that forcing them to affirm a “non-binary” status violates their Catholic faith. 

The Catholic Radio Association, along with nearly two dozen broadcasters, Law 360 reports, told the FCC that they shouldn’t be required to “conform to the viewpoints favored in elite society in order to acquire, or retain, a federal broadcast license.”

Arguing that the “gender identity mandate” is a form of compelled speech, the broadcasters said the FCC is forcing them to use “objectionable categories of human persons” and “coerces broadcasters to attest to the validity of these categories,” noting that the agency offers no exemptions to the rules.

The broadcasters also argue that the rules could have the unintended and “ironic” effect of causing Catholic employers to terminate non-binary employees so they aren’t compelled to report a non-binary status that they “know to be false,” Law 360 notes. 

The FCC rules requiring broadcasters to publicly report workforce diversity data, adopted earlier this year, were lauded by Commissioner Geoffrey Starks as critical for ensuring diversity. 

“Some might pretend that what we do today is a radical break outside of this agency’s authority. It is not,” he said in a statement. “Quite simply, today we reinstate a longstanding, statutorily-mandated requirement to collect workforce diversity data from broadcasters.” 

Noting that “good government” depends on effective and publicly available data, he said the mandatory workforce reports will “enable the Commission to monitor employment trends in the industry” and allow it to report its findings to Congress.

Another FCC commissioner, Brendan Carr, publicly dissented from the rules, saying that the public aspect of it meant that “the FCC will now post a race and gender scorecard for each and every TV and radio broadcast station in the country.” 

“In doing so, the FCC caves to the demands of activist groups that have worked for years and across different industries to persuade the federal government to obtain and most importantly publish this type of data about individual businesses,” he said in a statement, adding that it was “no benign disclosure regime.”

“The record makes clear that the FCC is choosing to publish these scorecards for one and only one reason: to ensure that individual businesses are targeted and pressured into making decisions based on race and gender,” he added.

Mr. Carr also said that the courts have previously overturned FCC rules for similar types of pressure on broadcasters that violated the equal protection clause of the Constitution. 

“The Civil Rights Act of 1964 requires that the government keep this type of data confidential when it is collected by the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission,” he wrote in a statement. “But the FCC goes another way — one that violates the Constitution, as courts already found in two prior FCC cases.”

The New York Sun

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