FCC adopts video description rules

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The rules require the four national networks (ABC, NBC, CBS and FOX) and the five most popular non-broadcast networks (currently USA, the Disney Channel, TNT, Nickelodeon and TBS) to provide 50 hours of video description in prime time or children's programming per quarter.

The rules require all television stations and cable services to pass through any program's video description if they are able to. 

The rules go into effect Oct. 8, but the stations have until July 1, 2012 to be in full compliance.

Commissioner Michael Copps supported the decision, but he said the FCC could have set a shorter timetable for enforcing the rules.

"Although I would have preferred and I am not convinced it would be too burdensome on companies to comply even earlier, I am pleased that the Chairman and my colleagues have moved up the timeline to support the long-delayed hopes of Americans with disabilities," he said in a statement. "Given the delay experienced by blind and visually impaired viewers for such an essential service we should be doing everything in our power to make sure they don’t wait a day more than is necessary." 

The National Broadcasters Association and the National Cable & Telecommunications Association praised the rules.

"Broadcasters are committed to meeting the programming needs of all members of their local communities," said Zamir Ahmed, a spokesman for the NAB. "We look forward to working with the agency on a practical approach that ensures this service to the visually impaired community is realized on a timely and reasonable basis."

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