47 USC 613 - Video programming accessibility

(a) Commission inquiry 
Within 180 days after February 8, 1996, the Federal Communications Commission shall complete an inquiry to ascertain the level at which video programming is closed captioned. Such inquiry shall examine the extent to which existing or previously published programming is closed captioned, the size of the video programming provider or programming owner providing closed captioning, the size of the market served, the relative audience shares achieved, or any other related factors. The Commission shall submit to the Congress a report on the results of such inquiry.
(b) Accountability criteria 
Within 18 months after February 8, 1996, the Commission shall prescribe such regulations as are necessary to implement this section. Such regulations shall ensure that
(1) video programming first published or exhibited after the effective date of such regulations is fully accessible through the provision of closed captions, except as provided in subsection (d) of this section; and
(2) video programming providers or owners maximize the accessibility of video programming first published or exhibited prior to the effective date of such regulations through the provision of closed captions, except as provided in subsection (d) of this section.

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(c) Deadlines for captioning 
Such regulations shall include an appropriate schedule of deadlines for the provision of closed captioning of video programming.
(d) Exemptions 
Notwithstanding subsection (b) of this section
(1) the Commission may exempt by regulation programs, classes of programs, or services for which the Commission has determined that the provision of closed captioning would be economically burdensome to the provider or owner of such programming;
(2) a provider of video programming or the owner of any program carried by the provider shall not be obligated to supply closed captions if such action would be inconsistent with contracts in effect on February 8, 1996, except that nothing in this section shall be construed to relieve a video programming provider of its obligations to provide services required by Federal law; and
(3) a provider of video programming or program owner may petition the Commission for an exemption from the requirements of this section, and the Commission may grant such petition upon a showing that the requirements contained in this section would result in an undue burden.
(e) Undue burden 
The term undue burden means significant difficulty or expense. In determining whether the closed captions necessary to comply with the requirements of this paragraph would result in an undue economic burden, the factors to be considered include
(1) the nature and cost of the closed captions for the programming;
(2) the impact on the operation of the provider or program owner;
(3) the financial resources of the provider or program owner; and
(4) the type of operations of the provider or program owner.

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(f) Video descriptions inquiry 
Within 6 months after February 8, 1996, the Commission shall commence an inquiry to examine the use of video descriptions on video programming in order to ensure the accessibility of video programming to persons with visual impairments, and report to Congress on its findings. The Commissions report shall assess appropriate methods and schedules for phasing video descriptions into the marketplace, technical and quality standards for video descriptions, a definition of programming for which video descriptions would apply, and other technical and legal issues that the Commission deems appropriate.
(g) Video description 
For purposes of this section, video description means the insertion of audio narrated descriptions of a television programs key visual elements into natural pauses between the programs dialogue.
(h) Private rights of actions prohibited 
Nothing in this section shall be construed to authorize any private right of action to enforce any requirement of this section or any regulation thereunder. The Commission shall have exclusive jurisdiction with respect to any complaint under this section.