The Word On Captioning

FCC chairman Tom Wheeler has teed up a vote on a three-part closed-captioning item that will require cable operators and broadcasters to make best efforts to improve their closed captions, but as currently constituted it will not propose fines or include specific standards, as some disability groups had sought, and will defer some tougher calls to the further notice.

The new rules go into effect Jan. 1, 2015.

A new draft is expected this week reflecting possible commissioner and general counsel office tweaks, but sources inside and outside the FCC were not looking for drastic changes.

According to sources familiar with the item, which is on the agenda for the FCC's Feb. 20 meeting, it is still a moving target—as one cable lobbyist put it—and could well change by a second draft, expected sometime next week. But an FCC source said the change would likely not make the requirements more stringent.

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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.