FCC Reviewing Aspects of Its Internet Closed-Captioning Rule

Petitions spur commission to collect more information on the regulation’s impact
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Petitions spur commission to collect more information on the regulation’s impact

While Aug. 1 is the date a federal rule becomes effective that requires video programs broadcast over the Internet be closed captioned, the U.S. government has agreed to collect more data on how the regulation might impact the providers, distributors and consumers of such video. 

 On July 2, the Federal Communications Commission posted on the Federal Register its final rule — Closed Captioning of Internet Protocol-Delivered Video Programming: Implementation of the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 — that said while the FCC does “affirm” most of the closed-captioning rule, the commission will review aspects of the regulation based on petitions filed by a trade association, a manufacturer and by consumer groups.

The FCC said its closed-captioning rule is to better enable individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing to view video programming. “In considering the requests made in the petitions for reconsideration, we have evaluated the effect on consumers who are deaf or hard of hearing as well as the cost of compliance to affected entities,” the commission said.

Those petitions were filed by the Consumer Electronics Association, which is a trade association representing the consumer technology industry; TVGuardian LLC, a manufacturer of a device that removes foul language from television broadcasts; and consumer groups, the FCC said.

The CEA filed petitions with the FCC on the regulation, and the commission granted two of the association’s requests. Those requests and FCC’s decisions on each are; the commission approved the association’s appeal that FCC provide “narrow class waivers” for certain apparatus that are primarily designed for activities other than receiving or playing back video programming and the commission granted the CEA’s request to modify the Jan. 1, 2014 deadline making the deadline applicable to an apparatus based only on the date it was manufactured, and not on its importation date, or its shipment or sale dates.

However, the FCC denied a broader request by the CEA that the commission narrow the scope of the rule and that the FCC not apply the closed-captioning rule to removable media players. The commission also denied the association’s request to temporarily extend the compliance deadlines for Blu-ray players as well as for DVD players that do not currently render or pass through captions, pending resolution of the further notice of proposed rulemaking.

In addition, the FCC denied the petition by TVGuardian — which makes a product of the same name that monitors hidden closed-caption text for offensive language and mutes such language — asking the commission to reconsider its decision to allow programming providers and distributors to enable text to pass through to end users, but to add “digital source devices” to the list that sends closed-captioning data to consumer equipment.

The FCC also deferred decisions on petitions by consumer groups urging the commission to reconsider its earlier decisions to exclude video clips from the Internet closed-captioning rule, and on directing the commission’s Media Bureau to issue a public notice seeking updated information on that topic within six months. A decision was also delayed on a consumer-group petition urging the FCC to issue a FNPRM to obtain more data that would be used to decide whether synchronization requirements should be imposed on the manufacturers of those devices.

Click here to access the Federal Register notice.