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March 28, 2002

Press Release

FOX Introduces Descriptive Narration on Five Series

The Media Access Group at WGBH Provides Description Services

Boston, MA. Beginning April 1, 2002, the FOX Broadcasting Company will premiere video description on five of its most popular series — THE BERNIE MAC SHOW, BOSTON PUBLIC, MAGIC SCHOOL BUS, MALCOLM IN THE MIDDLE and THE SIMPSONS. — Video description, developed in 1990 by WGBH, Boston's public broadcaster, makes television more accessible to the nation's 12 million viewers who are blind or visually impaired.

The Media Access Group at WGBH is providing description services for each of these FOX series. Funding for the description is provided by FOX Broadcasting Company and the US Department of Education.

THE BERNIE MAC SHOW: Airing Wednesday nights 9:00-9:30 PM ET/PT on FOX, this daring, new half-hour comedy, the recipient of a 2001 Peabody Award for broadcast excellence, is inspired by the real-life of stand-up comedian Bernie Mac — a family man with unique views on parenting.

BOSTON PUBLIC: Airing Monday nights 8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT on FOX, this thought-provoking, hour-long drama from creator/writer/producer David E. Kelley (ALLY MCBEAL, THE PRACTICE) goes inside Winslow High, an urban high school outside of Boston where Principal Steven Harper spends his days putting out fires, defending his faculty and keeping things going.

MAGIC SCHOOL BUS: In this animated, kids science series, Ms. Frizzle and her students ride the magic, transformable school bus to experience how things work from the inside out. Each trip provides young viewers with fascinating, behind-the-scenes adventures in the name of science. Check local FOX listings for broadcast schedule.

MALCOLM IN THE MIDDLE: Airing Sunday nights 8:30-9:00 PM ET/PT, this popular and inventive comedy, which won the 2000 Peabody Award, tells the story of a middle-class family with four squabbling brothers, as seen through the eyes of Malcolm — a "normal" kid with a genius IQ.

THE SIMPSONS: Now in its 13th hit season, this animated sitcom, created by Matt Groening follows the colorful everyday lives of the Simpson family — Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa and baby Maggie — and other residents of Springfield. Airs Sunday nights 8:00-8:30 PM ET/PT.

Descriptive Video Service® (DVS®) provides descriptive narration of key visual elements — making television programs, feature films, home videos and other visual media accessible to people who are blind or visually impaired. Key visual elements are those that viewers who are visually impaired would ordinarily miss, such as actions, costumes, gestures, facial expressions, scene changes and on-screen text. Inserted within the natural pauses in dialogue, audio descriptions of important visual details help to engage these viewers with the story.

Viewers can access description on their stereo-equipped televisions or VCRs through the Second Audio Program or SAP channel. Stand-alone SAP receivers also are available (these can be used with or without a television; a list of vendors can be found at Most TVs and VCRs purchased since 1992 are equipped with the SAP feature. To hear the narrated visual descriptions through a stereo TV or VCR, simply activate its SAP feature.

In addition to these FOX series, the Media Access Group at WGBH provides video description on a wide variety of programs broadcast on PBS, as well as on selected programs on CBS and Nickelodeon, and numerous films on the Turner Classic Movies cable network. First-run feature films (A BEAUTIFUL MIND, E.T. THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL, PANIC ROOM, SPIDER-MAN) are made accessible via closed captioning and description technologies WGBH developed for theaters, and which are now installed across the U.S. and Canada. For a complete list of described programs and films, visit or call the toll-free DVS information line at 800-333-1203.

The Media Access Group at WGBH is a non-profit service with offices in Boston, Los Angeles, and New York. The Group includes Descriptive Video Service® (DVS®), which has made television, film and video more enjoyable to audiences who are blind or visually impaired since 1990, and The Caption Center — the world's first captioning agency — which has made audiovisual media accessible to audiences who are deaf or hard-of-hearing since 1972. The third branch of the Media Access Group, the CPB/WGBH National Center for Accessible Media, is a research, development and advocacy entity that works to make existing and emerging technologies accessible to all audiences. Members of the Group's collective staff represent the leading resources and experts in their fields. For more information about access services, visit the Media Access Group Web site or call 617-300-3600 (voice and TTY).

About WGBH

WGBH Boston is America's preeminent public broadcasting producer. More than one-third of PBS's prime-time lineup and companion Web content as well as many public radio favorites are produced by WGBH. Its best-known productions include NOVA, Frontline, American Experience, Antiques Roadshow, ExxonMobil Masterpiece Theatre, This Old House, Arthur, and Zoom on PBS and The World and Sound & Spirit on public radio. WGBH also is a pioneer in educational multimedia and in technologies and services that make media accessible to people with disabilities. Since its establishment in 1951, WGBH has been recognized with hundreds of honors, including Emmys, Peabodys, duPont-Columbia Awards-- even two Oscars. For more information visit


Mary Watkins, Media Access Group at WGBH
617.300.3700 voice/fax
617.300.2489 TTY