Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Captioning Deadline Coming

In less than 8 weeks (Sept 30) new FCC rules will begin requiring captioning for edited, pre-recorded video programming posted over the Internet, if the video was first shown on television with captions. The rules to do not apply to YouTube clips and other amateur videos just professionally produced videos, particularly those already made available through broadcast, cable or satellite services. Here are some other exceptions:
  • Deleted scenes and altered TV scores 
  • Programing shown originally and only online 
  • If the TV channel does not make more than $3 million a year, then it is exempt from closed-captioning 
  • Newspaper and magazine online sites are exempted 
These FCC rules are based on a law passed by the US Congress three years ago, called the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 (CVAA). It directed the FCC to establish how and when video programming must be captioned. The rules describe captioning requirements for video owners, providers, and distributors, a compliance schedule, complaint rules; and requirements for manufacturers of devices that are used to view the video programming.

On March 30, 2013, the FCC began requiring all live and near-live programming originating from broadcasters to be closed captioned. Broadcasters have 45 days after the original date of a TV broadcast to provide online captioning for materials produced between March 30, 2014 and March 30, 2015. Some broadcasters have complained it is taking more bandwidth and money than they initially expected.

Rules for manufacturers do not kick in until the start of next year. On January 1, 2014 video devices are required to be able to process the closed captioning (DSLRs are except from this rule).  In June, an FCC rules update called the Order on Reconsideration and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking clarified that this deadline applies to the manufacture of the devices and not to their "shipment or sale” dates.

The biggest problem for online video providers is that there is not a single standard for captioning like as there is for broadcast TV (every TV station transmits what's called the ATSC spec and every consumer TV is designed to pick it up). With web video, there are several delivery methods (Flash, HTML5, Silverlight and others) and there are several kinds of playback devices. For captioning to work right, everything must be lined up and working together.