Skip to main content

Sources: FCC Won't Require Video Captioning of Internet Clips

The FCC won't require programmers to close-caption video
clips from TV shows when they play on the Internet, but it will encourage them
to do so, and it will delay implementation of the captioning requirement for
playback devices like DVD and Blu-Ray players.

That is according to FCC sources familiar with a petition
for reconsideration and further notice of proposed rulemaking on implementation
of the Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA) that the commissioners
are expected to vote to approve, the sources said. The captioning mandate
applies to broadcast and cable content on the Web, not to Web-original video.

Programmers will still have to caption full-length TV
programming that they post or stream on the Web, but will not have to caption
clips. But according to one source, the item suggests that the FCC would like
to start seeing those clips captioned or it might have to revisit the issue.

"If the industry does not start closed captioning for
more clips, particularly news clips, we might have to impose the
requirement," said the source, characterizing the language in the item.
The item makes it official. The FCC will revisit the clip issue in six months
to see if the industry has gotten the hint.

The item, which was pushed out the door by former FCC
chairman Julius Genachowski before he left last month, would exempt some
categories of playback devices -- digital still and video cameras and video
baby monitors -- from the rules' captioning mandate. But it would only delay
the deadline for DVD and Blu-Ray player captioning compliance pending the
resolution of issues teed up in the further notice of proposed rulemaking. That
notice "basically asks what the requirements mean for those devices,"
said one source.

Communications equipment manufacturers had been pushing for
more clarity.

The NRPM is essentially a reprieve for those manufacturers
from the current Jan. 1, 2013, compliance date since there will have to be time
for comment and reply comment on the further NPRM, then for the FCC to review
those and make a decision.

"Once we say how it will apply, [equipment
manufacturers] are going to need additional time to do that," said one
source. "We can't tell them how to comply in December and expect them to
have devices Jan. 1." The item also will make the mandate for compliance
by playback devices the date of manufacture rather than the date of
importation, shipping or sales. That means that noncompliant devices
manufactured before the compliance date can still be sold after that date,
rather than having stores "sweep the shelves."