FCC Proposes Not Applying Accessibility Requirements to Internet Video
Says statute did not extend scope of law to online, though IP delivery of traditional MVPD fare is covered
By John Eggerton -- Broadcasting & Cable, 11/20/2012 10:52:48 AM
Broadcasters and cable operators are required by the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 to make emergency information accessible to the blind and visually impaired, including having the requisite equipment.
On Monday, the FCC issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on making that information more accessible by requiring the use of a secondary audio stream to provide information aurally that is being provided visually during programming other than newscasts, which already have accessibility requirements for emergency info dating back to 2000. Currently, broadcasters and cable operators are only required to broadcast a tone -- which is usually then followed by a silent crawl of the information. Those who are blind and visually impaired may then have to tune to the radio to get the actual emergency info. The FCC is proposing requiring that the emergency crawl info be available aurally via a secondary TV channel to eliminate that extra step.
The FCC also asks whether, as an alternative, it should require or allow alternatives to that approach, including requiring broadcasters to follow the tone with a short message telling the visually-impaired audience where they can get the information -- radio station or phone number, or requiring a shortened version of the textual information on the primary channel.
And while the FCC clearly sees over-the-top video as a potential competitor to traditional video, it is not yet ready to migrate those broadcaster and traditional MVPD obligations onto Internet delivery, suggesting it is bound by statutory language.
"Congress did not explicitly extend the scope of the emergency information rules to IP-delivered video programming, as it did in requiring closed captioning of IP-delivered video programming," the commission pointed out. But it did suggest that could change. "At the outset, we do not, at this time, extend the scope of the emergency information and video description rules in this proceeding beyond the category of programming already covered by our existing emergency information and video description rules."
Commenters will have 20 days to weigh in after the notice's publication in the Federal Register, and reply comments are due 30 days after that.
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