Cable Companies Urged to Make Public Access Television Shows More

92 – Many cable companies refuse to list the titles of shows that air on public access television stations in their on-screen guides. Now media activists are pushing for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to intervene.

In 2010, President Obama signed into law the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA), which aims to make modern digital media platforms fully accessible to people who are deaf, hard of hearing, blind, or with low vision. The CVAA will be implemented largely through rules drafted and enforced by the FCC, a regulatory body that is widely criticized as being too close to the industries it is supposed to regulate. Today we look at how the FCC is implementing two sections of the CVAA. Sections 204 and 205 of the law specify that video service and equipment providers make it easier for users to turn on closed captioning, and also require that on-screen channel guides be presented in a way that allows for the text on the screen to be audio interpreted, so that people who are blind or have low vision, can hear the program descriptions. For years now, established cable companies along with new video service providers like AT&T and Verizon, have been downgrading the capacity of PEG TV channels, including the elimination of detailed, on-screen program descriptions from these noncommercial, community media institutions, effectively marginalizing the channels and the content they provide. We speak with Mitsuko Herrera, a member of the Federal Communications Commission’s Consumer Advisory Committee.

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