FCC Adopts Closed Captioning Rules for Online Video Programming

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The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has adopted a Report and Order (R&O) establishing rules for the closed captioning of video programming delivered via Internet protocol (i.e., IP video), as required by the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA). As discussed in our advisory on the CVAA and our overview of the Report by the Video Programming Accessibility Advisory Committee (VPAAC) making recommendations for FCC implementation, the CVAA compelled the FCC to adopt rules that require captioning of IP video programming that was published or exhibited with captions on TV after the effective date of such regulations (covered IP video).

The new rules govern TV stations, cable systems, broadcast and cable networks and virtually every other professional video program producer who is now, or will be in the future, making programming available online. The rules also impose new requirements on hardware (such as set-top boxes, PCs, smartphones DVD players, Blu-ray and tablets) designed to receive or play back video programming transmitted simultaneously with sound and integrated software. With rules that are so wide-reaching, everyone involved in these businesses needs to understand what the new rules entail.

IP video can take a number of forms, such as programming delivered to personal computers, tablet devices, cellular phones, game consoles, Blu-ray players, or set-top boxes. The rules adopted by the FCC include technical standards, protocols, and procedures for the transmission of closed captioning delivered using IP, to ensure that various apparatus are capable of rendering, passing through, or otherwise permitting display of the captions for viewers.

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