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FCC: MVPDs Must Comply With Second-Screen Accessibility by July 10

MVPDs have a July 10 deadline for making their TV Everywhere programming more accessible to the blind and visually impaired everywhere.

The FCC's Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau was reminding those MVPDs this week that as of that date they are required to pass through a secondary audio stream of emergency information if they allow their subs to access linear (prescheduled) programming services via second-screen devices—laptops, phones—as part of their service, yet another step in the FCC's ongoing implementation of the Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA) of 2010 requirement that emergency information in crawls and graphics that break into regular programming are accessible.

The definition of linear programming subject to the requirement is network programming that "can only be received via a connection provided by the MVPD using an MVPD-provided application or plug-in." 

So, it does not apply to programming that is only distributed via the internet (Netflix, Hulu) that is accessible by subs using either an MVPD-provided broadband connection or a third-party ISP connection. 

The FCC also reminded manufacturers that they are required to provide a way, comparable to a button or icon, to easily activate that secondary stream. They have been required since last December to do so.

Back in May 2015, the FCC voted unanimously (with some partial dissents from the Republicans) to require cable operators and other MVPDs to make emergency alert information accessible to the sight-impaired when their traditional programming lineups are accessed on second screens. 

Cable ops had been lobbying to confine that second-screen requirement to second screens in the home, but the FCC chose not to limit it.

MVPDs were given two years to make sure that any of their applications or plug-ins were in compliance, which deadline has now come due.

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.