FCC Shares Captioning Responsibilities

A unanimous FCC has decided to share program distributors' responsibility for the quality of closed captions with the program producers who supply them.

That came at the FCC’s Feb. 18 public meeting.

In continuing to implement the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA), the commission unanimously voted to make programmers responsible for caption issues within its control—production issues or transmission to distributors, like cable operators and broadcasters—while distributors will continue to be responsible for quality and transmission issues within its control.

Related: Divided FCC Votes to 'Unlock' Set-Tops

The item also updates the complaint process to allow distributors and programmers to make best efforts to resolve the complaint before it is considered for FCC enforcement.

In keeping with the move to make programmers responsible for captioning issues, their closed captioning certifications will now go directly to the FCC, rather than first to the distributors.

FCC chairman Tom Wheeler, who has made disability accessibility a priority, said the item was about the responsibility to those who "hear with their eyes," and for those who provide closed captioning "whether they create it or distribute it."

John Eggerton

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.