New! Audio Description for Some Television Shows!

Beginning Sunday, July 1, the landmark provisions of the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA) requiring the nation’s leading networks to provide a combined total of at least 450 hours of described video programming per calendar quarter have come to life. Consumers are encouraged to begin asking their local broadcast stations and cable providers about accessing the described programming to be provided. In addition, given that information about which programs are to be described and the means for accessing description can sometimes be difficult to obtain, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has recently launched a web resource to help consumers navigate program choices, the technical means for accessing description via digital TV and/or cable set top box, and the FCC’s complaint process for consumers to use to resolve network, station, or cable provider failure to put described programming in consumers’ hands. Visit the FCC’s web resource at:



Both Minneapolis and Chicago are among the top 25 markets, so some of your channels should have audio description. Video description is provided through the TV or set top box “secondary audio” feature, which some TV controls identify as “SAP” or “secondary audio program.” If you have a set top box for subscription TV service, you may contact your subscription TV provider for assistance in activating the secondary audio. Sighted help will be necessary to set up receiving description.   

Networks, broadcasters, and subscription TV systems may provide information about the availability of programs with video description through their websites and in program guides. Some program guides may use the symbol (D) to indicate that the program is video described.  Newsline will list programs as described on their television listings if that information is provided by the networks to the electronic feed for the listings.

 Currently, the following list of programs are anticipated to be aired with Video Description on July 1,2012.

  • ABC: Last Man Standing, The Middle, Suburgatory, Modern Family, Happy Endings and Don’t Trust the B—- in Apt. 23. ABC will most likely add new sitcom The Neighbors and new drama Nashville in the fall.
  • CBS: CSI, Criminal Minds, NCIS, NCIS: Los Angeles, plus movies and miniseries
  • Fox: The Simpsons
  • NBC: The Betty White reality show Off Their Rockers, drama Grimm and the summer series Saving Hope. Described sitcoms include The Office, Up All Night and Parks and Recreation
  • Disney: Jessie, A.N.T. Farm and the animated Phineas and Ferb
  • Nickelodean: Dora the Explorer and preschool educational show Team Umizoomi
  • TNT and TBS: The Closer,House of Payne and For Better or Worse.
  • USA: NCIS, Law & Order: SVU, Royal Pains and Suits.

If you think your service provider or the network in question is not meeting it’s obligations under the CVAA, you can file your complaint with the FCC’s Consumer Center by calling 1-888-CALL-FCC (1-888-225-5322) voice or 1-888-TELL-FCC (1-888-835-5322) TTY; faxing 1-866-418-0232; or writing to:

Federal Communications Commission
Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau
Consumer Inquiries and Complaints Division
445 12th Street, S.W.
Washington, DC 20554

            So if you’ve found a show you want to watch that is described, and have equipment capable of bringing in the description and it is programmed to do so, live it up and watch and listen!  You may find out who got shot on that murder mystery after all! 


            If you’re only interested in the audio portion of digital television broadcasts and

are looking for a simple, affordable ($180)  solution, the Oehm Electronics DTV radio is

an innovative and unique solution. Of course you have to live close enough to the transmitters to receive the signal (similar to FM signals).