FCC Sets Rules For Closed Captioning IP-Delivered Video Programming

This afternoon, the FCC released a Report and Order (R&O) which set new requirements for Internet Protocol (IP)-delivered programming. The new rules will require most programming captioned on television to be captioned when delivered via IP.  From the FCC:  “IP-delivered video programming today takes a number of forms, such as programming delivered to a personal computer, tablet device, cellular telephone, game console, Blu-ray player, or set-top box.” Examples of programming delivered via IP are videos on network’s website, programming you see on Hulu or YouTube, and video you download from iTunes, to name a few.

The FCC defined the different type of video presented via IP, and then set different compliance deadlines for each. The deadlines are, “from the date the rule is published in the Federal Register.”  Those are:

Prerecorded Programming:
All prerecorded programming that has not been edited for Internet distribution must be captioned starting in six months (June 2012).  “Not edited for Internet distribution” means program audio has not been altered in a way that would require new captions.

Live Programming:
All live programming — video that is shown on TV at the same time it is being broadcast, must be captioned starting in 12 months (January 2013). This applies to programming like awards shows, news, and sporting events.

Near-Live Programming:
Near-live programming is defined as “video programming that is performed and recorded less than 24 hours prior to the time it was first aired on television.”  This applies to shows like “The Tonight Show” and “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” which are recorded 3-6 hours before airtime.  These programs must be captioned online starting in 12 months.

Prerecorded Programming Edited for Internet Distribution:
This section applies to video programming for which the television version is substantially edited prior to its Internet distribution.  Examples of “substantial edits” include the deletion of scenes or alterations to the televised version of musical scores — as both require changes to the caption file. NOT included in this category is changes to or the duration of advertisements.

Notably exempt from this list are “clips” or short form programming usually posted on program providers’ websites. Examples of exempt clips include individual news stories on CNN.com, outtakes of your favorite TV show, and pre-show interviews with reality contestants.  The FCC has ruled that they are not required to be captioned though they “encourage the industry to make captions available on all TV news programming that is made available online, even if it is made available through the use of video clips as defined above.”

Stay tuned for more details.

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