New Closed-Captioning Complaint Rules Are in Effect

WASHINGTON: New FCC closed-captioning rules are now in effect, Brendan Holland of Davis Wright Tremaine noted this week.

“The new rules require immediate attention by video programming distributors--including broadcast television stations--to ensure that they respond promptly to viewer complaints regarding closed captioning issues, and to ensure that they timely file contact information with the FCC by March 22, 2010,” Hollland wrote at DWT’s BroadcastLawBlog.

The new rules apply to the way complaints about closed captioning are handled. Viewers can now file complaints directly with the FCC as well as the cable operator, broadcaster or satellite TV provider. They must file within 60 days of the alleged violation, rather than within the calendar quarter, and they must state the specific rule violated.

If the complaint is filed with the programming provider, the entity has to respond in writing within 30 days of receipt. Should a company fail to respond within the time period, or provide unsatisfactory resolution, the complainant can file with the FCC. Those complaints filed directly with the FCC will be forwarded to program distributors, who must then respond within 30 days to the FCC with adequate records and documentation.

Broadcast, cable and satellite companies have to publicize contact information for filing complaints, including telephone number, fax number and e-mail address, all of which lead to someone capable of immediately responding to the problem.

“Distributors are not required to alter their hours when they have staff available, but if calls are placed when staff is not available, such calls and inquiries must be returned or addressed within 24 hours,” Holland said.

The FCC will maintain a list of these contacts from information that providers must submit by March 22.

Holland’s full post, with more details is at the Davis Wright Tremaine BroadcastLawBlog.

(Image by Kara P)