FCC Addresses Closed Captioning Completeness

Effective January 15, 2015 (Update: FCC Pushes Back the Date on New Captioning Quality Standards), the FCC Report and Order (CG docket No. 05-231) requires all closed captioning to be “complete.” The new guideline states: Captioning shall run from the beginning to the end of the program, to the fullest extent possible.

The Northern Virginia Resource Center for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Persons reports multiple complaints relating to programs where captions disappeared, failed to appear, or concluded before the end of the program. The NVRC mentions the following examples of complaints from consumers: “...the first episode of [a] CNN series on the Cold War with incoherent captions, an Antique Road Show that inexplicably had no captions, an episode of Friends with captions that ended just a few minutes into the program, [the] complete absence of captioning from Hallmark Channel for weeks, and an episode of Six Feet Under that lost captions after 20 minutes.”

Hasn't the issue of closed captioning completeness always been addressed? Consider the following, previously permissible, scenario. Perhaps a program was originally closed captioned but then aired as a rerun with a new promotional segment or commercial. In the past, maybe the original captions were adjusted so that the new promotional spot was left blank and then the captions resumed after the inserted spot. This will no longer suffice. All programs that rerun with new spots or small adjustments will be required to have the closed captioning accurately match the new segment from start to finish.

Succinctly, any portion of a program that is missing closed captioning will not be compliant with the new regulation.

Don’t risk uncertainty and gamble on the possibility of rejected content, contact one of the experts at Aberdeen Broadcast Services. For more information on FCC closed captioning laws, visit: eCFR – Code of Federal Regulations. Or to read the full report submitted in February of 2014, get comfortable and check out: Closed Captioning Quality Report and Order, Declaratory Ruling, FNPRM.