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New Closed Captioning Rules from the FCC dated 2/20/2014

New Rules Adopted
On February 20, 2014, the FCC set new, improved rules for TV closed captioning to ensure that viewers who are deaf and hard of hearing have full access to programming, resolving concerns on captioning quality and providing much-needed guidance to video programming distributors and programmers. (This guide will be updated when final dates new rules go into effect are announced.)
The new rules apply to all television programming with captions, addressing quality standards for accuracy, synchronicity (timing), program completeness, and placement of closed captions, including the requirement that captions be:
” Accurate: Captions must match the spoken words in the dialogue and convey background noises and other sounds to the fullest extent possible.
” Synchronous: Captions must coincide with their corresponding spoken words and sounds to the greatest extent possible and must be displayed on the screen at a speed that can be read by viewers.
” Complete: Captions must run from the beginning to the end of the program to the fullest extent possible.
” Properly placed: Captions should not block other important visual content on the screen, overlap one another, run off the edge of the video screen, or be blocked by other information.
The rules distinguish between pre-recorded, live, and near-live programming and explains how the new standards apply to each type of programming, recognizing the greater hurdles involved with captioning live and near-live programming.
Best practices for video programmers and captioning vendors are included in the rules, which promise to improve captioning quality for viewers. For example, video programmers can provide high-quality program audio signals to promote accurate captioning transcriptions. They can also provide captioning vendors with advance access to show scripts, proper names and song lyrics, making it easier to caption live programs. Similarly, captioning vendors can ensure the proper screening, training and supervision of their captioners and take measures to ensure that their technical systems are functional, to prevent service interruptions.
The Commission also adopted measures to ensure that people who are deaf and hard of hearing will have greater access to news programming in their local communities. The measures include requiring broadcasters who are permitted under the Commission’s rules to convert teleprompter script into captions to pre-script more of their news programming, including sports, weather, and most late-breaking stories. The pre-scripting requirement will result in captioning for some news programming that previously aired uncaptioned. In addition, the new rules require that crawls and other visual information be used to provide visual access to certain news segments that can’t be pre-scripted.


Annette Blough, Q&A Reporting

Owner, Q&A Reporting

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