Monday, September 3, 2012

Emergency info MUST be captioned on Broadcast Videos

The FCC has issued a notice to video distributors, reminding them of their obligation to make all emergency information accessible to the deaf and hard-of-hearing. The Commission grants no exceptions to this requirement and accepts no excuses, even when it comes to breaking news - even when news reporters are ad libbing and not speaking from a prepared script. This rule covers broadcasters, cable systems and satellite television services - even those located in places away from areas affected by the emergency. Those emergencies include natural disasters such as tornadoes, earthquakes, hurricanes, floods and wildfires, along with man-made disasters such as discharges of toxic gases and industrial explosions. How serious is the FCC about this? One TV station was fined because, during coverage of wildfires, it aired a American Lung Association representative who gave the unsurprising advice that viewers should stay indoors, run their air conditioners with a filter, and avoid exercise. The station’s failure to include a visual presentation of that advice led to a whopping $20,000 fine. The FCC also requires video distributors to give the Commission contact information so that anyone in the audience - and that means you - who sees a problem with closed captioning can reach the video distributer directly to tell them about it. To file a complaint with the FCC about captioning, go here.