Monday, July 2, 2012
The Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010, signed into law by President Obama on October 8, 2010, directed the Commission to reinstate with some modifications the video description rules initially adopted in 2000. The FCC’s new rules require covered broadcast affiliates of ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC located in the top 25 TV markets to provide 50 hours per calendar quarter (approximately 4 hours per week) of video-described prime time and/or children’s programming.
The covered MVPD systems, when they carry any of the top five non-broadcast networks, Disney Channel, Nickelodeon, TBS, TNT, and USA, must also provide 50 hours per calendar of videodescribed prime time and/or children’s programming.
Additionally, the video description rules require all network-affiliated broadcast stations and MVPD systems to pass through any video description provided with network programming that they carry if they have the technical capability to do so and are not using it for other program-related content. Once a program is aired with descriptions, re-runs of that program must also include video description unless the capability of providing description is being used for other program-related content.
The Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act is the most significant disabilities legislation since passage of the American with Disabilities Act,” said Chairman Julius Genachowski. “In implementing its video description provisions, the Commission is ensuring that for the first time, individuals who are blind or visually impaired will be able to enjoy many television programs along with the rest of the general public.”
FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel released a statement.
"With the start of this month, we reach a new milestone in accessibility with video description. It has been a long time in the making. After all, it was 22 years ago that the Americans with Disabilities Act first became law. It was more than a decade ago that the FCC first plowed new ground and required video description to accompany popular television programming. Though the courts brought this early progress to a halt, Congress stepped in to right this wrong with additional authority and a groundbreaking new law—The Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act.
“Though there has been delay, the benefit is no less sweet. Now, more than 21 million visually-impaired Americans will be able to access television programming with video description. This widens the range of news and entertainment options available to the visually impaired and helps facilitate full participation in Twenty-First century life.
"We would not have reached this point without the cooperative work of so many providers and distributors of video programming and the tireless advocacy of so many champions in the disabilities community. Today’s establishment of the National Deaf-Blind Equipment Distribution Program is more proof positive that the good work continues. I look forward to continuing to work with all stakeholders to see that the implementation of the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act continues to expand access to communications technologies and opportunities across the country.”