FCC Proposes Extending Audio Description Mandate to More Markets

Carla Ruschival

FCC Proposes Extending Audio Description Mandate to More Markets

By Tom Butts published 1 day ago
Commission could add 10 new markets per year until all 210 DMAs are
covered by 2035.

FCC (Image credit: FCC)

WASHINGTON—The FCC is seeking public comment on adding more markets to
its audio description rules for TV stations, voting unanimously to
approve a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FNPRM) on Thursday.

The rules, which have been in place since the passage of the
Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of
2010, originally applied to stations in the Top 60 Neilsen markets. At
the time of passage, Congress gave the commission the authority to add
10 more markets per year, “if it determines that the costs for program
owners, providers, and distributors in those additional markets are

In 2020, the commission voted to extend the rules to 40 more markets,
with 10 new markets added per year until 2024. In its vote this week,
the commission proposed adding 10 more annually until all 210 DMAs
fell under the audio description mandate, with all markets covered by

Targeting the blind and visually impaired, audio description for TV
involves adding narrative during programming in which dialogue is not
occurring, describing scenes, action and other non-verbal aspects.

FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel has a long history with the technology.

“It was more than a decade ago that Congress made audio description
generally available when it passed the Twenty-First Century
Communications and Video Accessibility Act,” she said. ”It’s a law I
know well because I worked on it as counsel to the United States
Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. When it was
passed, it required that the Commission make audio description
available on programming in the largest 60 television markets across
the country. A little over two years ago, the Commission expanded this
requirement … Today we propose to finish the job by reaching all 210
markets in the United States.”

Deadline for public comment is not yet known and the commission take
a final vote prior to the new changes.

Tom Butts

Tom Butts

Tom has covered the broadcast technology market for the past 25
years, including three years handling member communications for the
National Association of Broadcasters followed by a year as editor of
Video Technology News and DTV Business executive newsletters for
Phillips Publishing. In 1999 he launched digitalbroadcasting.com for
internet B2B portal Verticalnet. He is also a charter member of the
CTA's Academy of Digital TV Pioneers. Since 2001, he has been
editor-in-chief of TV Tech (www.tvtech.com), the leading source of
news and information on broadcast and related media technology and is
a frequent contributor and moderator to the brand’s Tech Leadership

David Goldfield,

Blindness Assistive Technology Specialist

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