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Broadcast, Cable Seek FCC Extension of Closed Captioning Comments

Broadcast and cable operators have asked the FCC for a little more time to comment on a request that the FCC develop "objective, technology-neutral metrics" for the quality of live closed captions.

Groups including Telecommunications for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Inc. (TDI), National Association of the Deaf (NAD), and Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) filed a petition July 31 pressing the FCC to set those standards, citing ongoing inconsistency in live caption quality.

"As new captioning technologies and methodologies including automatic speech recognition (ASR) enter the captioning marketplace, many consumers have continued to experience poor-quality captions on live programming, which in some cases have become even worse over the past several years," they told the commission, which they argued shouldered some of the blame saying it "did not grapple seriously with quality problems in the provision of captions for live programming for nearly two decades."

The FCC put that petition out for comment Aug. 14, with comments due Sept. 13 and reply comments Sept. 30. The National Association of Broadcasters and NCTA-The Internet & Television Association this week asked the FCC to postpone the deadlines until Oct. 15 and Oct. 30, respectively, due to an upcoming conference, the latest in s series, among NAB, NCTA and the deaf community, scheduled for Oct. 2.

'[W]e believe these meetings have opened a dialogue that has increased appreciation for, and understanding of, the industry’s efforts and advocacy groups’ positions," said NAB and NCTA. "An extension will produce more constructive comments from industry and the advocacy groups alike, and in turn, will develop a more robust record for the benefit of other interested parties and the Commission."

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.