Reply Comment Deadline Extended on Proposal to Describe Emergencies on Video

The U.S. government has extended the deadline for reply comments on a proposed rule mandating that emergency information be accessible to individuals who are blind and visually impaired and that televisions make available video description and accessible emergency information.
            On Dec. 20, 2012, the Federal Communications Commission posted a Federal Register notice—Accessible Emergency Information, and Apparatus Requirements for Emergency Information and Video Description: Implementation of the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010—that sets the deadline for reply comments as Jan. 7, 2013, extended from the original deadline of Dec. 28, 2012 listed in the proposed rule that was posted on the Federal Register on Nov. 28, 2012.
            The proposed rule seeks to make televised emergency information more accessible to individuals who are blind or visually impaired. Under the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 (P.L. 111-260), the FCC must “promulgate regulations” requiring video programming providers and video programming distributors and program owners to convey “emergency information in a manner accessible to individuals who are blind or visually impaired.”
            The FCC’s NPRM proposes to make televised emergency information more accessible to individuals who are blind or visually impaired by requiring the use of a secondary audio stream to aurally provide emergency information that is otherwise conveyed visually during programming other than newscasts.
The comments deadline was extended to “facilitate the development of a full record given the importance of the issues in this proceeding,” the FCC says.
            On Dec. 6, 2012, the Consumer Electronics Association, the National Association of Broadcasters and the National Cable & Telecommunications Association jointly requested that the reply comment deadline be extended by ten days, due to the expected volume of comments, discussion and data on the complex issues expected to be raised by “this proceeding,” the FCC says.
            The FCC’s policy is that extensions of time for filing comments in rulemaking proceedings shall not be routinely granted. However, the commission says, “given the importance of the issues in this proceeding and in the interest of encouraging thoughtful consideration of these issues, we believe that granting the joint request is warranted to provide commenters with sufficient time to prepare reply comments in response to the NPRM and to facilitate the development of a more complete record.”
            Click here to access the Federal Register notice.

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