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FCC Adopts Phase in Plan for Audio Descriptions in Upstate NY TV Markets

Over the years, the FCC has rolled out its requirement that the top four affiliated stations (ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox) in each market must provide audio descriptions for their programs. These provide narrated descriptions of a television program's key visual elements during natural pauses in the program’s dialogue. This is for the benefit of individuals who are blind or visually impaired. Covered TV stations must pass through 87.5 hours of audio-described programs each calendar quarter.

The FCC’s current audio description requirements only apply to the top 90 DMAs. The rules will be extended to DMAs 91-100 beginning on January 1, 2024. The FCC has now expanded the audio description requirements to DMAs 101-210. This is set to begin with DMAs 101-110 on January 1, 2025. Ten markets will then be phased in every year, ending with DMAs 201-210 on January 1, 2035.

Based on the FCC’s decision, the top four affiliated TV stations in the markets below will have to comply with the audio description rules based on the following schedule:

  • Burlington/Plattsburgh DMA #93 – January 1, 2024

  • Binghamton DMA #162 – January 2031

  • Utica DMA # 171 – January 2032

  • Elmira/Corning DMA #178 – January 2032

  • Watertown DMA #179 – January 2032

The FCC did note that there have been slight changes in DMA market rankings. Accordingly, it will use the DMA market rankings based on the 2023 Nielsen data. Of course, stations can implement audio descriptions earlier if they wish. Network programming already contains these descriptions.

You can see the FCC’s decision here.

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