Media Bureau Sets Comment Period For WBD Waiver Request

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The FCC’s Media Bureau on Friday agreed to consider a petition filed June 14 by Warner Bros. Discovery that seeks regulatory approval for a limited waiver of the Commission’s requirement that covered entities provide a certain amount of audio described
programming per calendar quarter.


Specifically, WBD requests a limited waiver of section 79.3(b)(4) of the Commission’s rules covering the period of July 1 through June 30, 2027, for multichannel video programming distributor (MVPD) systems that carry TBS and TNT.

Audio description makes video programming more accessible to individuals who are blind or
visually impaired through “[t]he insertion of audio narrated descriptions of a television program’s key visual elements into natural pauses between the program’s dialogue.”

The Commission’s audio description rules, adopted pursuant to the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 (CVAA), require MVPDs that serve 50,000 or more subscribers to provide 87.5 hours of audio description per calendar quarter on channels carrying each of the top five national non-broadcast networks. To meet the quarterly requirement, covered entities may count each program they air with audio description no more than twice on a given channel (commonly referred to as the “repeat rule”).

TBS is currently in the top five national non-broadcast networks subject to the audio description rules, and TNT will join TBS in the top five non-broadcast networks during the next triennial period beginning July 1.

Each have heavy live pro sports schedules. And, this could make audio description cumbersome for WBD. That’s not an issue here at all. Rather, it is the “repeat rule.” That’s why WBD requests a waiver for TNT and TBS similar to the limited waiver granted to TBS during the current triennial period. It’s key argument: the “repeat rule” makes it “extremely difficult, and sometimes impossible” for its networks to comply with the Commission’s rules.

Specifically, WBD requests a waiver of section 79.3(b)(4), and the Media Bureau finds merit with the proposal. A such, a Comment Date of June 28 has been established for “MB Docket No. 11-43,” and a Reply Comment Date of July 5 is in place.

 

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