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NAB, NCTA Pitch FCC on Online Clip Captioning Flexibility

Broadcasters and cable operators are on the same page when it comes to providing captions for online video clips: Online clips should not be held to the same quality standard as full-length captions on TV programming, and the clip requirement for time-sensitive clips should not kick in before mid-to-late 2017.

That is according to arguments made to FCC staffers by National Association of Broadcasters and National Cable & Telecommunications Association execs as the FCC prepares to vote at its July 11 public meeting on extending closed captioning requirements to online clips.

It already requires online captioning of full-length shows that originally aired on broadcast and cable.

Both associations were concerned with time-sensitive clips, like breaking news, and advanced clips, like online promos for shows that have not aired yet.

"The Commission therefore must not apply the same captioning quality standards established for televised full-length programming that is subsequently published online," NAB told staffers in the chairman's office. Ditto NCTA, which calls it "unreasonable to compare the quality of captions for an online clip to the captions for a full-length TV program."

NAB included a visual aid with its submission to the FCC to illustrate the additional complication of online clip captioning.

NCTA said programmers need flexibility to experiment with new ways of providing captions for clips, including voice recognition technology.

NCTA points out that cable programmers already voluntarily caption a "significant" amount of clips online, including prioritizing new clips where feasible. It points out that Fox News and MSNBC try to caption almost all of their clips on their Web sites. NAB says broadcasters are working on ways to automate the captioning process to speed it up.