FCC Seeks Comments on Updating Closed Captioning Display Rules

(Image credit: TVT)

WASHINGTON D.C.—The FCC is asking for public comment on updating its closed captioning rules for television as well as for a broad range of video devices. Perhaps acknowledging technological advances since it last solicited public input on the subject in 2015, the commission says part of the reason it is doing so is in response to consumer complaints it has received since then. 

In 2015, the FCC proposed rules that would require manufacturers of applicable video devices  and multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs) to make closed captioning display settings readily accessible to individuals who are deaf and hard of hearing and asked commenters to address the commission’s authority to adopt such rules under the Television Decoder Circuitry Act of 1990 (TDCA). 

The FCC’s actions six years ago were designed to update the ”Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010" (CVAA) that broadened the definition and scope of what programming and devices were subject to closed captioning rules. No action was taken in 2015 so the FCC is asking for public comment to update its implementation of CVAA.

“Since the Commission last invited comment on these issues, consumers and other stakeholders have raised ongoing concerns about difficulties consumers face when attempting to access closed captioning display settings across a host of technologies and services,” the commission said. “For instance, the Commission has received consumer complaints regarding user interfaces and the difficulty of adjusting closed captioning settings. Furthermore, comments received earlier this year in response to a related public notice concerning the Commission’s implementation of the CVAA suggest that these issues persist.  

“Most recently, at a forum co-hosted by the Media Bureau and the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau, panelists detailed (opens in new tab) the discoverability and ease of use challenges posed by closed captioning display settings across an increasingly fragmented video programming hardware and software environment,” the commission added.

The FCC is also seeking comments on whether it has the authority to require that closed captioning display settings be readily accessible, the means by which the commission would implement a requirement that consumers be able to readily access user display settings for closed captioning, and the extent to which it can impose such rules on all devices defined under the CVAA.

More information is available here (opens in new tab).

Tom Butts

Tom has covered the broadcast technology market for the past 25 years, including three years handling member communications for the National Association of Broadcasters followed by a year as editor of Video Technology News and DTV Business executive newsletters for Phillips Publishing. In 1999 he launched digitalbroadcasting.com for internet B2B portal Verticalnet. He is also a charter member of the CTA's Academy of Digital TV Pioneers. Since 2001, he has been editor-in-chief of TV Tech (www.tvtech.com), the leading source of news and information on broadcast and related media technology and is a frequent contributor and moderator to the brand’s Tech Leadership events.