FCC Increases Required Amount of Audio Description for TV Networks

Updated: January 4, 2018


The FCC has just announced its decision to increase the minimum requirement for audio description for US broadcasters and pay-TV providers (nonbroadcasters).

From now on, multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs) will need to increase the amount of audio description available to viewers from “50 hours per calendar quarter to 87.5 hours per quarter.” The rule will go into effect in July of 2018.

About Audio Description and the FCC

Audio description, also known as video description, or simply “description,” is an audio track that describes what is happening on-screen, making video accessible to those who are blind or have a vision impairment.

Through the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA), the FCC has set a goal of having 100% of television programming described by the year 2020.

In announcing this decision the FCC expressed recognition that blind and low vision viewers should be given a reasonably equivalent experience, stating:

According to the National Federation of the Blind, more than 7 million Americans have a visual disability. The new rules adopted today will ensure that more video described programming is available to those who rely on it, and also provide broadcast and nonbroadcast television networks more flexibility in complying with the rules.

[…] With the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010, Congress recognized the importance of ensuring that Americans with disabilities have access to functionally-equivalent entertainment and communications options. The new rules adopted by the Commission today take another important step in implementing this law and furthering its accessibility goals.

Who Will this Impact?

This requirement only applies to the top-rated “broadcast and nonbroadcast television networks” which are currently, ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, Disney Channel, History, TBS, TNT, and USA. However, in their official news release, the FCC also stated that this list is subject to change in July 2018.

Want to learn more? Click the image below to download your “Beginner’s Guide to Audio Description” today:


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