Video production control panel

Since July 4, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) increased the mandatory number of hours of video description that TV stations and networks have to provide.  Previously, the mandatory number of hours per quarter during prime time or children’s programming was 50.  Now, in addition to those 50 hours, the networks have to provide 37.5 hours per quarter between 6 a.m. and 11:59 p.m.

The TV stations covered by the regulation are the ones affiliated with the TV networks ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC in the top 60 markets of the country.  This regulation also covers the top 5 national non-broadcast networks USA, HGTV, TBS, Discovery and History. 


How are the covered networks determined?

The FCC uses the Nielsen ratings that show the audience level for the different TV networks.  In the case of the broadcast networks, the top 4 are selected.  For the non-broadcast, the list of networks is updated every 3 years based on the ratings of the 2 years prior to the update. Before July 4th of this year, the 5 non-broadcast networks covered by the regulation were: USA, TNT, TBS, History and Disney Channel.  The FCC encourages TNT and Disney to continue including video description in their programming even though they are not obliged by law anymore. 


How can you know what programming is available with video description?

Several consumer organizations as well as TV networks offer information about the programming available with description either on their websites or by phone.

Consumer Organizations

American Council of the Blind (ACB): Audio Description Project website, which is an ACB initiative 

American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) 

American Federation of the Blind (NFB): Information to subscribe to NFB-Newsline, which provides a list of described programs 

TV Networks - list of described programs




Discovery Channel 




• NBC Call (818) 777-7030

• USA Call (212) 664-7010


How can you access video description?

The following links, from subscription TV providers, provide instructions to access the video description. 

• AT&T U-Verse: Video Description for U-verse TV 

• Comcast and XFINITY:  Turn Video Description On and Off Using the X1 On-Screen Guide 

• Cox Communications: Learn About Video Description Service 


Despite the number of video description hours is still limited, the increment on the number of mandatory hours is welcomed!   Unfortunately, this obligation covers only the English programming. The Spanish speaking population that is blind or has visual disabilities is still left behind.



- "Title 47: Telecommunication. PART 79—ACCESSIBILITY OF VIDEO PROGRAMMING." Electronic Code of Federal Regulations,

- "Video Description." Federal Communications Commission,


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