As July comes to a close, we are reminded of the ever-approaching deadlines of the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA). The bill, which President Obama signed into law on October 8, 2010, ensures that our increasingly web-based media viewing culture is accessible to all people.
Here’s a review of the key dates that have already passed, and the ones yet to come:
September 30, 2012: Prerecorded programming that has not been edited for the internet must have captions on the web if the program aired on TV with captions. This means that the content owner can simply use the original caption file for their web content, possibly requiring transcoding, but not re-captioning of the program.
March 30, 2013: All new programming that aired on TV and was later published in its entirety to the web, has to have captions on the web. This means that live programming, when published to a website in its entirety, must be captioned.
September 30, 2013: Prerecorded programming that has been substantially edited for the internet must be captioned if it is shown on broadcast TV on or after this date.
March 30, 2014: The confusing one — content that resides in an online archive or library without captions must be captioned within a certain timeframe after it airs on TV, regardless of whether or not it was edited. The earlier dates apply to programming that airs on TV and is later placed on the web. This date applies to programming that already resides on the web and THEN airs on TV.
So, say the “Leave it to Beaver” pilot already exists on Netflix, but has not aired on TV recently. As soon as it airs on TV after March 30, 2014, the clock will be ticking for the content owners to caption the episode online. The amount of time they have depends on when the pilot airs on TV, but will be no more than 45 days.
Many customers have archived programming currently posted online, uncaptioned. It’s not yet required to be captioned, but will be if it airs on TV in 2014. Rather than trying to keep track of when content airs on TV, they are choosing to caption their entire archive in advance of the upcoming mandate.