NCTA Backs PEG Petition for Captioning Waiver

Cable operators want the FCC to clarify that there is no closed captioning registration or compliance certification obligations on individual MVPD programmers.

That came in an FCC filing by NCTA: The Internet & Television Association in support of an Alliance for Community Media (ACM)  petition for a waiver of those requirements for programmers of PEG (public, educational and governmental access (PEG) channels.

NCTA said it supports the waiver for PEG programmers, but also wants the FCC's Government Affairs Bureau to make it clear that video program owners included in linear program networks distributed by MVPDs have no registration or certification obligations.

"We agree with ACM that any requirement for individual producers of programs aired on channels to register and certify with the Commission would impose significant and unnecessary burdens on those producers," NCTA said, but added that If ACM’s "expansive reading" of the FCC's Order is correct, that burden fall not just on PEG program producers, but, conceivably producers of every program licensed for distribution by an MVPD. 

"The broad definition of 'video programming owner' cited by ACM was not meant to require a program-by-program certification or registration for each program licensed to a network for distribution by a cable operator or other multichannel video programming distributor," NCTA told the commission. "Rather, it was intended to address a potential gap in captioning responsibility in cases where owners of video programming 'may distribute programming themselves [as is the case with PEG] and possess a right to license the programming to third parties. No such gap arises where a network itself certifies its compliance with the captioning rule, in so doing ensuring that each of the programs comprising its linear channel line-up also is either exempt or captioned in accordance with the rules."

For there to be a separate obligation for certifications for each program would impose "needless paperwork obligations" on program suppliers.

In February 2016, the FCC voted to put the ultimate responsibility for compliance with closed captioning rules on video program distributors rather than programmers, concluding it would "most expeditiously increase the availability of television programming with closed captions and promote efficiency in the Commission's monitoring and enforcement of its captioning rules."

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.