Hooray! FCC Releases TV Video Description Order: July 2012 Effectiveness Date

August 25, 2011.  The FCC Commissioners voted 4-0 to reinstate TV video description rules yesterday, releasing the Report and Order today. Below is the statement made by FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn upon release of the FCC Vid Description Report and Order. Commissioners Copps and Clyburn's statements are below in addition to a Summary of the rules.

STATEMENT OF FCC COMMISSIONER MIGNON L. CLYBURN--Re: Video Description: Implementation of the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010, Report & Order

In restoring the video description regulations that the Commission previously adopted in 2000, we further expand access to video programming and take another step toward the fulfillment of the rulemakings sought by the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 (CVAA). In responding to the full intent of Congress, we have acted in a manner that will enable certain citizens among us to reap the benefits of televised content in an even more complete way, ending a wait that has gone on for far too long.

I often speak about the rich diversity of this country, and when doing so I am usually making mention of varying ethnicities or my fellow female citizens. However, the beneficiaries of the rulemaking we release today are part of a group that isn’t often included under the umbrella of diversity in this context, but it should be. Our blind and visually-impaired family members, friends, and neighbors have been waiting for user-friendly communications services that address their needs in an equal and thorough way, and this action gets them one step closer to enjoying something that so many of us take for granted.
In providing video description, America’s blind community will not only be able to enjoy the entertainment that video content providers offer, but they will also be part of the conversations around it. I want to stress this, as I can imagine how left out a visually-impaired child feels when his or her classmates are discussing what happened on a popular show the night before, and to not be a part of that conversation or be able to follow along. The same is true for blind adults, for whom the proverbial water cooler chats about TV shows hold little meaning or enjoyment. This item will assist those individuals in getting even closer to the mainstream when it comes to popular culture, and we are a better and more complete nation for it.

The July 1, 2012 date of enactment will allow users of video description to enjoy the new TV shows of next fall from the beginning, which is an integral component of the social importance of this item. Further, with the 22nd anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act falling on July 26, 2012, I am ecstatic that the video description improvements we implement via this Order will be in place.

I want to congratulate the visually-impaired community for their tireless and extraordinary efforts toward this historic development, and am honored to be part of the culmination of such determination and passion.

Quick Summary of the Regulations for Video Description

  • Video description is defined as the narrated descriptions of a television program’s key visual elements inserted into natural pauses in the program’s dialogue.
  • Video descriptions improve access to television programs for millions of Americans who are blind or visually impaired.
  • The video description rules require ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC affiliates in the top 25 market areas and cable and satellite television providers with more than 50,000 subscribers to provide video description.
  • ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, USA, the Disney Channel, TNT, Nickelodeon, and TBS are each required to provide 50 hours of video-described prime time or children’s programming per calendar quarter.
  • Full compliance with the rules is required on July 1, 2012.

Here are the links to the Word and PDF versions of the Report and Order, and the statements from Commissioner Copps and Commissioner Clyburn.

Read Report and Order in WORD:

Report and order in PDF

Read Commissioner Copps Statement

Read Commissioner Clyburn's Statement