FCC Officially Proposes Expanding Described Video Mandate to More Markets

The FCC has approved a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking 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.

That means it will collect comment on the proposal before voting to make it final.

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.

The FCC is proposing to phase-in the new markets starting Jan. 2, 2021, at a rate of 10 markets per year for four years.

The FCC also wants to know whether it should take the current COVID-19 pandemic into account in imposing the added costs of expanding video description requirements or in the deadlines it sets and whether it should change the terminology from "video description" to "audio description."

The item was voted in advance of the FCC's public meeting Thursday (April 23), which is being held by teleconference.

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.