SMPTE makes closed-captioning standard freely available for online video

The Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE) announced on May 3 that it will make its standard for closed-captioning of online video content (known as SMPTE Timed Text and by the designation SMPTE 2052) available free of charge.

The announcement comes as the FCC prepares to move on adopting rules to give those with disabilities access to Internet video content with closed captioning.

“SMPTE Timed Text enables broadcasters to expand the use of their existing TV captions into the online media space, while ensuring the preservation of their integrity,” said Clyde Smith, senior VP, Global Broadcast Technology, Turner Entertainment Networks and SMPTE Fellow. “Its use will permit the industry to more rapidly migrate programming with captions to the Web and ensure that all consumers’ online experiences will be at least as rich as they enjoy on TV today,”

The SMPTE closed-captioning standard — known officially as SMPTE 2052 — provides a common set of instructions for authoring and distributing captions or subtitles for broadband video content. This design means that TV content providers need only use one method for providing captions rather than custom approaches for different Web browsers or media players, including new digital content and previously captioned analog programs.

The standard, which leaves room for innovation, is media-device and media-player agnostic, allowing manufacturers to develop products without worrying about interoperability issues.

The SMPTE standard materials are available for download at and

An FAQ about the standard and its use is available at