The National Association of Broadcasters has asked the FCC to give stations in markets 61-100 more time before they are made subject to the FCC’s video description rules, which were mandated in the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010. The organization cited the pandemic’s effects on some stations in mid-markets.
In April, the FCC proposed to expand the video description requirements to network-affiliated stations in television markets 61 through 100 starting Jan. 1, 2021, followed by an additional 10 TV markets each year for the next four years. This proposal was just published in the Federal Register, setting a deadline for the filing of comments of June 22, 2020, with reply comments due by July 6.
The FCC is proposing to require 40 more markets (DMAs 61-100) to provide audio descriptions of video programming but also wants to know if the current pandemic changes any part of the equation. Per the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 (CVAA), FCC rules currently require certain stations in the top 60 markets to provide that service to the blind and visually impaired.
Commercial TV stations affiliated with either ABC, CBS, Fox or NBC and are located in the top 60 television markets are required to provide 50 hours per calendar quarter of video-described primetime or children’s programming, and to provide an additional 37.5 hours of video-described programming per calendar quarter at any time between 6 a.m. and midnight. The FCC wants comments on this requirement for a report to Congress.
The commission has issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking seeking comment on proposals to expand the amount of and access to video described programming.
Beginning next Wednesday, July 1, TV stations affiliated with the Top Four networks (ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC) in the top 60 markets will be required to provide 50 hours of video description per calendar quarter. Currently, the video description requirement applies only to commercial TV stations affiliated with a Top Four network that are located in the top 25 markets.
Yesterday, the reinstatement of the FCC’s “video description” rules finally became official with their publication in the Federal Register. It has been a long time coming, given that the rules were originally created by the FCC in 2000. In short, the reinstated rules require large-market broadcast affiliates of the top four national networks, and cable/satellite systems (MVPDs) with a large number of subscribers, to provide programming with video descriptions to their viewers.
Affiliates of the Big Four broadcast networks in the top 25 markets and five cable networks — USA, Disney Channel, TNT, TBS and Nickelodeon — must provide 50 hours a week of voiceovers describing scenes, costumes, action and other “key visual elements” in programs. The rules take affect Oct. 8, but the stations and networks have until July 1, 2012 to be in full compliance.
The National Association of Broadcasters and Fox News Channel are among those arguing that TV news should be exempt from video description rules the FCC is looking to establish, according to FCC filings.