The FCC is about to propose updates to video description rules on television which would drastically expand the amount of described programming produced. Per this article from TVNewsCheck, the proposed new rules would increase the number of networks required to provide audio described content from 9 to 15, including the top 5 broadcast networks and the top 10 entertainment-based cable networks. For broadcast, this may mean audio described programming in Spanish, as Univision ranks fifth behind ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox currently. For cable, depending on when the rankings are determined, networks such as AMC, FX, and HGTV could be included. Networks such as CNN and ESPN which primarily produce live programming are excluded from these rankings.
The amount of content per quarter would also be increased from 50 to 87.5 hours, which equates to about 7 hours of programming per week. For a cable channel, this can easily be achieved through reruns while for network channels, this would mean that roughly a third of their schedule would need to be described, assuming they described only prime time programming as is done currently. In addition, the new rule would solidify a network's requirement for audio description even if they fall out of the top 5 for networks for top 10 for cable. In 2015, Nickelodeon fell out of the top 5 cable networks and was no longer required to provide described content, though they continue to do so.
a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking will soon be issued which will allow the public to comment on the forthcoming changes. We'll post more information as it becomes available.
A news blog on issues in the community of people with disabilities and accessibility.
Derek Mortland, ADA and Community Outreach Coordinator