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NCTA Opposes Tougher Captioning Enforcement

The National Cable & Telecommunications Association came out against the stronger closed-captioning rules sought by advocates for the deaf.

Most complaints about closed-captioning are caused by “technical glitches” that “fall short of demonstrating a problem that warrants significant changes in the rules,” the cable group said last week in a formal response to a petition filed in July by Telecommunications for the Deaf and other groups.

Urging new compliance and record-keeping requirements for TV stations and cable systems, the groups’ petition said, “It has become clear that additional enforcement mechanisms are required in order to ensure full implementation of the rules and to increase accountability for noncompliance.”

Specifically, they want the Federal Communications Commission to maintain a database with updated contact information for programmers and to create a complaint form that viewers could submit when compliance problems are discovered. FCC audits of compliance should also be implemented.

The FCC has been phasing in closed-captioning quotas. As of Jan. 1, broadcasters and cable operators were required to caption at least 1,350 hours of new English-language programming per quarter. All English-language programming except for news and other exempt shows must be captioned beginning Jan. 1, 2006.