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Video Description Consumer Guide

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Released: June 22, 2012
Video Description
Background
Video description is audio-narrated descriptions of a television program’s key visual elements.
These descriptions are inserted into natural pauses in the program’s dialogue. Video description
makes TV programming more accessible to individuals who are blind or visually impaired. On
August 25, 2011, the FCC adopted rules to implement the video description provisions of the
Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 (CVAA)
(www.fcc.gov/guides/21st-century-communications-and-video-accessibility-act-2010).
These rules are effective as of

July 1, 2012.

Availability of Video Description

FCC rules require local TV station affiliates of ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC located in the top 25 TV
markets (see list below) to provide 50 hours per calendar quarter (about 4 hours per week) of
video-described prime time and/or children’s programming.
 Local TV stations in markets smaller than the top 25 also may provide video description.
Check with your local TV stations.
 Many Public Broadcasting System (PBS) stations also provide video description on a number
of programs. Check with your local PBS station.
 The requirement to provide video description is extended to local TV station affiliates of ABC,
CBS, Fox, and NBC located in the top 60 television markets beginning

July 1, 2015.

The top 5 non-broadcast networks - Disney Channel, Nickelodeon, TBS, TNT, and USA - must
provide 50 hours per calendar quarter (about 4 hours per week) of video-described prime time
and/or children’s programming.
 Subscription TV systems (offered over cable, satellite or the telephone network) with 50,000
or more subscribers must carry video description.
 Subscription TV systems with fewer than 50,000 subscribers also may provide video
description. Check with your subscription TV provider.

How to Access Video Description

Video description is provided through the TV or set top box “secondary audio” feature, which
some TV controls identify as “SAP” or “secondary audio program.” The secondary audio may
also be identified as a language feature, such as “Spanish” or “SPA,” because it is also used to
provide Spanish or other language translations of English language TV programs. Depending
upon the program being viewed, when listening to the secondary audio, you may hear the primary
audio with video description, Spanish or other language translation, a duplicate of the primary
audio, or silence.

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Federal Communications Commission

Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau

445 12th St. SW. Washington, DC 20554
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1-888-CALL-FCC (1-888-225-5322) . TTY: 1-888-TELL-FCC (1-888-835-5322)

Fax: 1-866-418-0232

www.fcc.gov/consumer-governmental-affairs-bureau.

Your TV user manual may provide information about activating the secondary audio feature, or
you may contact the customer service department where you bought the TV or the customer
service department of the TV manufacturer for assistance. If you have a set top box for
subscription TV service, you may contact your subscription TV provider for assistance in
activating the secondary audio.

Learn More

Networks, broadcasters, and subscription TV systems may provide information about the
availability of programs with video description through their websites and in program guides.
Some program guides may use the symbol (D) to indicate that the program is video described.
In the future, the FCC will provide links to these websites where they are available, and other
information on video description on the FCC’s web page at www.fcc.gov/encyclopedia/video-
description
.

Top 25 TV Markets

1 New York, NY
14 Tampa-St. Petersburg, FL
2 Los Angeles, CA
15 Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN
3 Chicago, IL
16 Miami-Ft. Lauderdale, FL
4 Philadelphia, PA
17 Denver, CO
5 Dallas-Ft. Worth, TX
18 Cleveland-Akron, OH (Canton, OH)
6 San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose, CA
19 Orlando-Daytona Beach-Melbourne, FL
7 Boston, MA (Manchester, NH)
20 Sacramento-Stockton-Modesto, CA
8 Atlanta, GA
21 St. Louis, MO
9 Washington, DC (Hagerstown, MD)
22 Portland, OR
10 Houston, TX
23 Charlotte, NC
11 Detroit, MI
24 Pittsburgh, PA
12 Phoenix, AZ (Prescott, AZ)
25 Raleigh-Durham, NC (Fayetteville, NC
13 Seattle-Tacoma, WA

Filing a Complaint

After these new rules become effective, the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau will
release a consumer advisory with instructions on how to file complaints concerning the new video
description requirements, via the FCC’s website. You can also file your complaint with the FCC’s
Consumer Center by calling 1-888-CALL-FCC (1-888-225-5322) voice or 1-888-TELL-FCC (1-
888-835-5322) TTY; faxing 1-866-418-0232; or writing to:
Federal Communications Commission
Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau
Consumer Inquiries and Complaints Division
445 12th Street, S.W.
Washington, DC 20554
The FCC will forward the complaint to the video programming distributor or provider, and the
distributor or provider will have 30 days to respond to the complaint.

.
.
Federal Communications Commission

Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau

445 12th St. SW. Washington, DC 20554
.
.
1-888-CALL-FCC (1-888-225-5322) . TTY: 1-888-TELL-FCC (1-888-835-5322)

Fax: 1-866-418-0232

www.fcc.gov/consumer-governmental-affairs-bureau.

What to Include in Your Complaint

Your complaint should include the following information:
 Your name and addresses (both geographic and email, if you have an email address);
 The name, location (city and state), call letters, and network affiliation of the TV broadcast
station; or the name and address of the subscription TV system plus the name of the network
that provided the programming;
 Enough information to demonstrate that the video programming distributor has violated or is
violating the FCC’s video description rules, such as the name of the program or show; the
date and time when it was shown; and a detailed description of the video description problem,
including specifics about the frequency and type of problem (e.g., video description available
during only part of the program or missing in its entirety – but remember that not all
programming must be video described under the FCC’s rules);
 The specific relief or satisfaction being requested;
 Any additional information that may assist in processing your complaint; and
 Your preferred format or method of response to the complaint (such as letter, facsimile
transmission, telephone (voice/TRS/TTY), email, or some other method that would best
accommodate you.
Resolution of your complaint may be delayed if the above information is not complete. You also
can provide the FCC with any additional information you think appropriate (e.g., written-out
examples of the video description, recordings you made of the video description problem, etc.).
The Commission will promptly forward complaints satisfying the above requirements to the video
programming distributor involved. The video programming distributor must respond to the
complaint within a specified time, generally within 30 days. The Commission will review all
relevant information provided by the complainant and the video programming distributor and will
request additional information from either or both parties when needed for a full resolution of the
complaint.

For More Information

For more information about FCC programs to promote access to telecommunications services for
people with disabilities, visit the FCC’s Disability Rights Office website at www.fcc.gov/cgb/dro.
For information about other telecommunications issues, visit the FCC’s Consumer and
Governmental Affairs Bureau website at www.fcc.gov/consumer-governmental-affairs-bureau,
or contact the FCC’s Consumer Center using the information provided for filing a complaint.
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For this or any other consumer publication in an accessible format (electronic ASCII text, Braille, large print or audio),
please write or call us at the address or phone number below, or send an email to FCC504@fcc.gov.
To receive information on this and other FCC consumer topics through the Commission's electronic subscriber service,
visit www.fcc.gov/cgb/contacts/.
This document is for consumer education purposes only and is not intended to affect any proceedings or cases
involving this subject matter or related issues.
6/18/12

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Federal Communications Commission

Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau

445 12th St. SW. Washington, DC 20554
.
.
1-888-CALL-FCC (1-888-225-5322) . TTY: 1-888-TELL-FCC (1-888-835-5322)

Fax: 1-866-418-0232

www.fcc.gov/consumer-governmental-affairs-bureau.

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