Yesterday, the FCC adopted a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) that recommends updating its video description rules to expand the availability of and consumer access to video-described programming. Video-described programming makes TV accessible to blind or visually impaired individuals by enabling audio-narration to describe key visual elements of a program during pauses in dialogue.
Back in 2011, the Commission reinstated rules that require some broadcast stations and pay TV providers to offer video description for a portion of their video programming. The current obligation to provide video description applies to TV broadcast stations that are affiliated with ABC, CBS, Fox or NBC and are located in the top 60 TV markets. The rules also currently apply to the top five non-broadcast networks on pay TV systems that serve 50,000 or more subscribers.
Among the proposals in yesterday’s NPRM are to increase the number of networks subject to the video description rules from four broadcast and five non-broadcast networks to five broadcast and 10 non-broadcast networks. More about the Commission’s proposal is available here.
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has repeatedly talked about promoting universal communications access, and this points to that effort. Commissioner Ajit Pai used a statement to underline that he supports increasing the availability of video description and that he was voting to approve in part.
“At the same time, I’m concerned that taken together, the proposals in this Notice of Proposed Rulemaking exceed the Commission’s statutory authority,” Pai notes. More on the reasoning behind his partial dissent is available here.
Filed Under: Industry regulations