FCC Addresses Closed Captioning Position on Screen

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 “properly placed.” The new regulation states: Captioning shall be view-able and shall not block other important visual content on the screen, including, but not limited to, character faces, featured text (e.g., weather or other news updates, graphics and credits), and other information that is essential to understanding a program’s content when the closed captioning feature is activated.

Previously, closed captioning placement could be in any location on the screen; typically a few rows up from the bottom in an attempt to clear any graphics that appeared. Captions are also frequently placed at the top of the screen throughout an entire program in order to avoid collision with graphics. The problem with this is that occasionally a larger graphic that contains vital information (such as a website, name, or phone number) that could be blocked by the closed captioning. Also, when positioned at the top, the captions might cover a speaker’s face or mouth. This proves to be particularly challenging when viewers cannot see the speaker’s mouth while watching the closed captioning and lip-reading simultaneously.

What’s the solution? Closed captioning will now be required to move around the screen to avoid any essential material or speaker’s faces. Timing will be adjusted so that there is adequate time to read a caption line before it clears and moves to a new location on the screen. This ensures that the closed captioning remains a vital resource without hindering or interfering with the program’s content or important visual information.

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.

For more on captioning placement, visit our post FCC Challenges Video Editors to Make Room for Caption Placement.