At its Feb 2014 Open Meeting today, the FCC approved new rules governing the caliber of closed captions that has to come in television programming. As noted within our earlier advisory, the lengthy-anticipated rules originate from a petition filed in 2004 by which advocates for that deaf and hearing impaired searched for improved quality of closed captioning. The guidelines are available in the wake of the flurry of lobbying by your customers in recent days, in addition to numerous submissions of suggested “best practices” and ex parte filings by industry players and advocacy groups. According to statements in the meeting, the Commission adopted new captioning rules described below, and addressed Electronic Newsroom Technique (Ing) and video-on-demand captioning, among other conditions. The FCC’s action reflects how new Chairman Tom Wheeler makes ease of access issues important for that Commission.
The brand new rules, which have yet to be released at this moment, will feature four standards designed to make sure that captioning quality effectively produces the auditory experience with television programming. Underneath the new rules, captions should be:
Accurate-by reflecting the dialogue, music, along with other sounds contained in the programming
Synchronized-by matching the audio and video content from the programming
Complete-by running right from the start towards the finish from the program and
Appropriately Placed-when you are found on screen so they won’t block other visual content.
Based on statements made in the meeting, these captioning quality rules, that are likely to work in The month of january 2015, will differentiate between pre-recorded and live or near-live programming, because of the different amounts of complexity involved with precisely captioning various kinds of content.
The guidelines are anticipated to include guidelines posted through the National Cable and Telecommunications Association (NCTA), the nation’s Association of Broadcasters (NAB), and captioning agencies. Amongst other things, the guidelines will need video programming distributors (VPDs), for example MVPDs (e.g., satellite and cable providers) and broadcast stations, to make use of best efforts to acquire certifications from video programming proprietors (VPOs) of either the VPOs’ compliance with captioning guidelines or even the exempt status of relevant programming. VPDs will also be needed to acquire and monitor equipment employed for supplying or passing through captions and should take corrective measures as necessary in case of captioning problems.
The brand new rules are anticipated to use to any or all captioning methods, including Ing, a technique that advocacy groups had contended ought to be eliminated or eliminated. With Ing, captions are produced in the script for live programming, usually using a news script computer or teleprompter, but might suffer precision issues if loudspeakers improvise or else set off script throughout a broadcast. According to Ing guidelines suggested by NAB, the FCC will need broadcasters to follow along with new needs for Ing use, including scripting a bigger proportion of content and taking advantage of additional crawls or any other visuals to supplement Ing captioning. Additionally, broadcasters is going to be needed to file for some pot report twelve months following the rules work on the potency of the brand new Ing procedures.
The Declaratory Ruling caused by today’s meeting is anticipated to explain certain lengthy-standing grey areas relating to closed captioning compliance. Included in this are issues regarding captioning on-demand and bilingual programming. Additionally, clarification can also be expected concerning the needs for VPDs to supply contact details for customer complaints.
Finally, the FCC announced the issuance of the Further Notice of Suggested Rulemaking (FNPRM) covering several additional facets of closed captioning quality. First, the FCC will seek discuss reapportioning captioning responsibility one of the various stakeholders within the programming distribution chain. Because the FCC issued its first captioning order in 1997, ultimate responsibility for meeting captioning needs has rested with VPDs, as alluded to above. But various parties have advised the FCC to allocate responsibility otherwise, or at best produce a burden-shifting liability mechanism by which VPDs initially investigate captioning problems and shift responsibility for resolving issues to VPOs as necessary. Second, the FNPRM will explore options apart from Ing for captioning live programming. Third, the FCC will seek discuss procedures for reporting captioning outages. It remains seen whether actual qualitative/number standards is going to be considered.
Further information on the brand new rules, Report and Order, Declaratory Ruling and FNPRM is going to be available upon the FCC’s discharge of the product and associated documents. We’ll update this advisory with a lot more information once we discover it.