by Gerald Freda
The 21st Century Communications & Video Accessibility Act of 2010 (aka S.3304) was passed by the HoR on Tuesday, 9.28.10. What does the passage of S.3304 mean for closed captions and video description (aka audio description) accessibility services? Well, glad you asked!
The new law will require programs that contain captions when broadcast for television to also have captions when distributed and delivered over the Internet. It gives the FCC the latitude to either approve or deny exemption requests for Internet caption delivery under the new rule within the first 12 months. Programs (clips, shorts, webisodes) created specifically for the Internet are not required to have closed captions.
Under Section 202 of the new law, the top 4 broadcast channels and the top 5 cable channels in the top 25 most populated markets in the country must provide 4 hours per week of video description. After 2 years of the video description service, the FCC must provide a report to Congress on the overall service implementation. The law gives the FCC permission to increase the hourly amount to 7 per week after 4 years from the service launch date by the top channels and in the same demographic markets mentioned above.
The law also states that after 6 years, the FCC must ensure that the video description service is expanded to reach the top 60 markets of the country. At the 9-year mark, the FCC must report to Congress if there is a need to broaden the reach of the service to additional markets. At the 10-year mark, the law gives the FCC the right to further expand the service to 10 new markets yearly until the 100% nationwide coverage is achieved.
We’ll continue to update you as the law comes into effect. Congratulations to everyone who advocated on behalf of increased accessibility.