Report and Order lays out rules for closed captioning of IP-delivered content

January 19, 2012

The FCC adopted Jan. 12 a Report and Order setting up rules governing the closed-captioning requirements for those who own, provide and distribute video programming via IP.

The commission action also sets up rules regarding closed captioning that must be applied to certain consumer devices used to access such video programming. With the passage of the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA) of 2010, Congress directed the agency to revise its rules to require closed captioning of IP-delivered video that is presented on TV with captions.
The new rules require video programming owners to send caption files for IP-delivered video to video programming distributors and providers along with program files. Further, the rules require video program distributors and providers to enable rendering or pass through of required captions to the viewer.

The new rules also require program owners, distributors and providers to make available to distributors and providers on an ongoing basis information on programming that is subject to the IP closed-captioning requirements.

The rules also address the quality of the captions. They require owners of programs to provide distributors and providers with captions at least as good as those on TV for the same programming and require distributors and providers to maintain closed-caption quality.

The new rules also set up an extensive timetable for captioning of prerecorded, live and near-live programming.

In a statement released with the Report and Order, FCC commissioner Robert McDowell expressed concern about the timetable that was established and the expense involved in close captioning programming for IP distribution.

He also raised concern over the constitutionality of the new rules. In his statement he said, “I fear that these regulations could infringe upon the First Amendment rights of content creators.”

McDowell also said he was concerned that although the intentions of the rules are good, that they may result in content being withheld from the Internet.

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