102-page regulation triggering online closed-captioning has been amended with
another 46 pages on device compliance deadlines, outtakes and how
the descriptive words get to
second-, third-, and screens to infinity and beyond.
The short version is thus: A) Jan. 1, 2014 is the manufacturing
deadline by which video players must be able to
process closed captioning; B) That deadline is extended for Blu-ray and DVD
players; C) DSLRs are exempt; D) Devices can either render or pass through
captioning; and E) regulators are punting on video clips.
In an Order
released Friday, the Federal Communications Commission addressed three
petitions for reconsideration of its January 2012 directive to extend
closed-captioning to TV shows redistributed on the Internet. The Consumer
Electronics Association asked to have the device rules whacked back a bit,
while TVGuardian LLC wanted rendering axed, and advocacy groups for the
hard-of-hearing questioned the exemption of video clips. The original order
applied to only long-form TV shows redistributed over IP networks.
“Consumers have expressed particular concern about availability of captioned
news clips, which tend to be live or near-live,” the Order said.
Given the live/near-live deadline for online captioning was March 30, 2013, the
commission reasoned that the process will become more efficient as providers
work out the kinks.
“Thus, we expect that these entities voluntarily will caption an increased
volume of video clips, particularly news clips,” the Order said.
It directed the FCC’s Media Bureau to issue a Public Notice within six month
seeking more information on captioning video clips.
“If the record developed in response to that Public Notice demonstrates that
consumers are denied access to critical areas of video programming due to lack
of captioning of IP-delivered video clips, we may reconsider our decision on
this issue,” the Order said.
The commission went along with the CEA’s assertion that the original order was
squishy on the Jan. 1, 2014, device compliance deadline. The language left
uncertainty about whether it applied to manufacturing, importation or shipment
date. Manufacturing, the commission said. It then dismantled most of the CEA’s
The FCC ixnayed the CEA’s legal play to exempt devices “designed to” play
audiovisual content that were not necessarily intended to do so.
argues that the statutory phrase ‘designed to’ suggests that the closed-captioning
apparatus rules may only reach apparatus that the manufacturer intends to
receive, play back, or record video programming,” the commission’s Order
states. “We disagree. Nowhere does the statute reference the ‘intent’ underlying
the design and manufacture of an apparatus.”
Rather than a sweeping exemption based on manufacturer intent, the commission
agreed to “narrow-class waivers” for devices like DSLRs and camcorders, which
conceivably could play back a TV show from a memory card.
“The inconvenience of taking these steps in order to view video programming on
the camera screen, including the fact that a camera lacks the full panoply of
playback controls typically used to view video programming, leads us to
conclude that the device’s ability to display video programming is incidental,”
the Order stated.
The CEA also tried to get a pass for Blu-ray and DVD players based on language
in the presidential directive to develop captioning rules. CEA noted that it
described video “transmitted simultaneously with sound.” CEA said “transmitted”
meant via wire or radio frequency. The commission replied, non aleae
. However, because there is no closed-captioning standard
for discs, the commission granted a temporary extension on the Jan. 1, 2014
compliance date for DVD and Blu-Ray players.
TVGuardian LLC, a Roger, Ark. company that makes a composite-video connected
“Foul Language Filter,” argued for pass-through versus rendering. In the first
case, a source devices such as a set-top simply passes through the
closed-caption data to the display. In the second, the source device transmits
the information necessary for the display to write the closed captions—the
methodology used in HDMI. Given the widespread adoption of HDMI, the commission
refused to exclude rendering.
August 7, 2012, “Closed-Caption
fuse on the FCC mandate for closed captioning of certain webcast video material
is growing short, with Sept. 30, 2012 the deadline for the first phase of implementation.
April 9, 2012, “Closed-Captioning
Closes In on Independent Producers”
the last two weeks, the FCC’s Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau sent out
more than 230 notices seeking specific information by a date certain that will
otherwise trigger the closed-captioning requirement.
Jan. 25, 2012, “Churches
File for New Closed-Caption Exemptions”
The FCC changed the qualifications for exemptions last October, and notified
590 programmers they would have to file new petitions for exemptions granted
under rules established in 2006.