Industry loses bid to delay new service for blind


To assist the blind, leading large-market TV stations and cable systems must
offer narration of on-screen action April 1 despite the industry's court fight
to overturn the requirement.

The Federal Communications Commission Tuesday refused to stay a rule
requiring many TV providers to carry 50 hours of video description per quarter.
Under the requirement, adopted in July 2000, stations owned by or affiliated
with the "Big Four" networks in the top 25 TV markets must provide four hours per
week of video description for prime time or children's programming. Cable- and
satellite-TV systems with 50,000 or more subscribers have identical requirements
for each of their top five national nonbroadcast networks.

The National Association of Broadcasters, the National Cable & Telecommunications Association and the Motion Picture Association of America asked the FCC to
postpone the effective date pending a legal challenge to the rules. But the FCC
said stations and cable systems have already begun preparation for the new
service and no irreparable harm would be caused if the court ultimately rescinds
the rule.

The descriptions will be carried on each frequency's Second Audio Program.
The SAP channel is most commonly used for Spanish translation.