FCC Seeks Comments on Extension of IP Closed Captioning Rules to Video Clips


The FCC’s Media Bureau has released a public notice seeking comments on whether it should require close captioning for IP-delivered “video clips,” pursuant to the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 (“CVAA”).  The CVAA was passed by Congress in 2010 to “update our nation’s telecommunications protections for people with disabilities.”  The Commission has adopted implementing rules in 2012.

In a 2012 Order, the FCC imposed the close captioning requirements[1] on the owners, providers, and distributors of IP-delivered video programming for all “full-length programming,” but not initially to “video clips.”  The FCC has defined “video clips” as excerpts of full-length video programming.  The Commission noted, however, Congress intended for video clips to be covered eventually by the captioning obligations.

Subsequent to the FCC’s 2012 Order, a coalition of consumer groups filed for reconsideration of the exception for video clips, especially as it relates to uncaptioned news clips.  The FCC deferred decision on such request for reconsideration, but decided to monitor the availability of captioned video clips and directed the Media Bureau to seek public comment on the industry’s progress in captioning IP-delivered video clips.  This new public notice constitutes the Media Bureau’s response to such directive.

Specifically, the Bureau seeks comments on several issues, including the following:

  • The current state of captioning of IP-delivered video clips, especially news clips.
  • The availability of captioned versions of such clips, in both numbers and quality of captioned clips.
  • Whether, as a legal and/or policy matter, the Commission should require captioning of IP-delivered video clips.
  • The potential costs and benefits of requiring captioning; affects on consumers of the absence of captioning; the process of, and technical implications of, captioning video clips; whether there are any difference in the captioning process for full-length IP programming and IP-delivered video clips.
  • Whether all IP delivered video clips should be required to be captioned or some sub-set(s) thereof.

Comments are due no later than January 27, 2014, with reply comments must be filed by February 26, 2014.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding this Advisory or are interested in filing comments with the Media Bureau, please contact Robert H. Jackson at rhj@commlawgroup.com.

[1] According to the FCC 2012 Order, the close captioning duties for full-length programming include:

·         Requiring video programming owners to send required caption files for IP-delivered video programming to video programming distributors and providers along with program files;

·         Requiring video programming distributors and providers to enable the rendering or pass through of all required captions to the end user, including through the hardware or software that a distributor or provider makes available for this purpose;

·         Requiring video programming owners and video programming distributors and providers to agree upon a mechanism to make available to video programming distributors and providers information on video programming that is subject to the IP closed captioning requirements on an ongoing basis;  and

·         Requiring video programming owners to provide video programming distributors and providers with captions of at least the same quality as the television captions for the same programming, and requiring distributors and providers to maintain the quality of the captions provided by the video programming owner.

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