FCC to Vote on Expanding Audio Descriptions

Exterior of the FCC building in Washington, D.C.
(Image credit: FCC)

The FCC plans to vote at its Oct. 27 public meeting on a proposal to up its requirements for broadcast audio descriptions.

Audio description helps the blind and sight-impaired access the nonverbal portions of video, describing scenery or action.

Back in April, the FCC approved a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to require 40 more markets (DMAs 61-100) to provide audio descriptions of video programming. The new market phase-in starts Jan. 2, 2021, at a rate of 10 markets per year for four years.

Per the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 (CVAA), the FCC rules currently require certain stations in the top 60 markets to provide that service to the blind and visually impaired.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said Monday that the item would be on the agenda for a vote. He said the item would include revising the rules to change to "audio" rather than "video" description, the FCC's former term of art, per the recommendation of disability rights advocates. "This will ensure that the Commission uses the terminology currently used throughout the federal government and the industry, providing consistency for everyone," he said.

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.