FCC Announces Effective Date for Captioning Responsibilities Report and Order


Video Programmer and VPD Caption Responsibilities Take Effect September 22, 2016; Certifications, New Caption Complaint Process to be Announced at Later Date

Earlier year, the FCC released a Report and Order clarifying television closed captioning responsibilities in regard to compliance with the FCC Caption Quality Best Practices that went into effect March 16, 2015.

We briefly reported on the order in February at its initial release.

The Report and Order officially was published in the Federal Register on August 23, 2016, so the amendments regarding responsibilities officially take effect 30 days from publication, September 22, 2016. This clarifies that:

  • It is the responsibility of the video programmer to ensure the ordering and presence of quality closed captioning on programming, while it is the distributor (broadcaster, cable, or satellite company) to make sure the captions pass through, and pass through correctly regarding any technical aspects.

The rest of the order regarding caption compliance certification and complaint procedures will not go into effect until they are reviewed by the Office of Management and Budget and include specifically:

  • The video programmer, or the network, must certify compliance with the Quality Best Practices directly to the FCC annually. Or, if the video programmer is exempt from having to caption the programming, they must identify the reason (s).
  • “Burden shifting” of initial investigation of caption complaints to the VPD. Those with a caption complaint may file their issue with the VPD or directly with the FCC. If the VPD finds the issue to be on their end, they must notify the FCC and specify how they plan to correct the issue. If the VPD discovers it is not an issuse they’re responsible for after a thorough technical analysis, the video programmer must then conduct an investigation into the program in which the issue occurred and has 30 days to give a written response to the FCC. Complaints going to a VPD or the FCC should include the following:
    • Channel Number
    • Network
    • If going directly to the FCC, name of their VPD (cable/satellite company)
    • Program Title
    • Specifics of the Captioning Issue
  • A “Compliance Ladder” if a “trend,” or “pattern” of non-compliance of caption quality by a certain VPD is noticed,  that VPD will be notified by the FCC and have 30 days to file a written response on corrective action.

We will be following this closely, and will update when the effective date is announced of the latter parts of the amendment.

As always, VITAC, as the caption vendor, adheres to the best practices set forth in section 79.1(k)(2),(3) and (4) of the captioning rules, provided the programmer has adopted and follows the best practices set forth in 79.1(k)(1).

Contact us with any questions, or visit our Regulations pages.

By Brittany Bender