The FCC has granted an extension of time to submit comments in its proceeding to re-institute video description rules for television programming. Comments are now due April 28th, and Reply Comments are due by May 27th. A copy of the FCC's recent Order extending the deadline is available here. As we wrote about earlier (here), this rule making proceeding seeks to reinstate the Commission's prior video description rules with certain modifications, as required by the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 (the CVAA). The proposed rules would require large market broadcast affiliates of the top four national networks and most cable operators and DBS providers to provide programming with audio narrated descriptions of a television program’s key visual elements beginning as soon as first quarter 2012. Davis Wright Tremaine previously summarized the Act in our earlier advisory available here.
In addition, the FCC also just granted an extension of time to file comments in a related proceeding that seeks to implement other aspects of the CVAA. That proceeding, addressing accessibility of equipment and Advanced Communications Services, was also initiated in early March and shares a similar timetable for promulgating rules as the video description proceeding. Accordingly, the FCC did not grant the full 30-day extension sought by the parties, but rather has granted a two week extension of time for comments. Comments are now due on April 25, and replies on May 23 in that proceeding. Groups including the National Federation for the Blind and the Consumer Electronic Association requested a month-long extension in the comment date but, as Congress has required that these rules go into effect at the beginning of 2012, the Commission felt that it could only justify a two week extension and still be able to meet the statutory deadline. So have those comments ready by April 25.