FCC Seeks Comment on Petition for Limited Waiver of Video Description Requirements

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The Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC or Commission) Media Bureau has issued a Public Notice regarding a petition filed by NBCUniversal, LLC (NBCUniversal), on behalf of USA Network (USA), requesting a limited waiver of the Commission’s video description requirements that benefit blind or visually impaired viewers. As a multi-channel video programming distributor (MVPD) that serves at least 50,000 subscribers, NBCUniversal must provide 87.5 hours of described video programming per calendar quarter on any channel on which it carries a top five national non-broadcast network, including USA. The required 87.5 hours of video description is divided into two components: (1) 50 hours in prime time or on children’s programming and (2) 37.5 hours between 6:00am and 11:59PM. Additionally, any given program can only count twice towards the required hours.

NBCUniversal states that it has become increasing difficult for USA to meet these requirements because the network does not regularly schedule children’s programming and largely airs repeats and new programming. As a result, NBCUniversal has asked that USA, along with other top five national non-broadcast networks, be granted a waiver of the video description rules for a period ending on June 30, 2021. In consideration of the waiver, NBCUniversal has proposed that the networks be subject to the following conditions: (1) providing at least 1,000 hours of described programming each quarter with multiple repeats allowed, and (2) providing video description for at least 75 percent of newly produced, non-live programming being aired between 6:00am and midnight.

Comments are due on or before July 12, 2019, with reply comments due on or before July 26, 2019.

 

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