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50 Hour Video Description Obligation Expands to Top 60 Markets on July 1

Beginning next Wednesday, July 1, 2015, TV stations affiliated with the Top Four networks (ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox) in the top 60 markets will be required to provide 50 hours of video description per calendar quarter.

Currently, the video description requirement applies only to commercial TV stations affiliated with a Top Four network that are located in the top 25 markets. However, the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 (CVAA) requires the FCC to extend the video description requirements to Top Four-affiliated stations in markets 26-60 (a) after filing a report with Congress on the state of the video description market; and (b) not later than six years after the enactment of the CVAA.

In its 2011 Video Description Order, the FCC announced that the requirement for 50 hours of video description would expand to the 60 largest markets, as determined by the Nielsen 2014-2015 TV Household DMA rankings, on July 1, 2015.

In addition, the FCC noted that the video description rules require all stations to pass through video description when it is provided by their network if the station has the technical capability to do so.

The CVAA gives the FCC authority, beginning in 2020, to phase in the video description requirements for up to an additional 10 markets each year. Accordingly, the FCC will continue to assess the costs and benefits of video description to determine whether extending the requirements beyond the top 60 markets is appropriate.