FCC Announces New Video Programming Display Rules; Seeks Comment on Others

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The FCC has released a public notice announcing that certain rules regarding consumer accessibility of video programming “menus” and “guides” have now become effective, and that it seeks also seeks comment on newly proposed rules that would require equipment manufacturers and multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs) to ensure that consumers are able to access display settings for closed captioning.  On November 20, 2015, the Commission released the Second Accessible User Interfaces Order, which adopted rules stipulated under the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010.  Specifically, the rules required user interfaces and video programming guides and menus accessible on devices used to view video programming be “usable by individuals who are blind or visually impaired” by adopting a definition of “usable” that is expanded to include persons with disabilities.  The November Order also adopted rules concerning consumer notification requirements for manufacturers of digital apparatus and navigation devices that will require MVPDs, as well as manufacturers, to ensure that the contact persons listed on public websites are able to answer both general and specific questions about the availability of “accessible equipment.”  Most of the new rules become effective March 5, 2016.  On November 20, 2015, the FCC also adopted a Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking which among other things, sought comment on a proposal to adopt rules that would require manufacturers and MVPDs to ensure consumers are able to readily access user display settings for closed captioning, as required by the Television Decoder Circuitry Act of 1990.  Comments are due Wednesday, February 24, 2016 and reply comments are due Monday, March 7, 2016.

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