Goto Section: 79.1 | 79.2 | Table of Contents
Revised as of October 1, 2014
Goto Year:2013 |
§ 79.1 Closed captioning of televised video programming.
(a) Definitions. For purposes of this section the following definitions
(1) Captioning vendor. Any entity that is responsible for providing
captioning services to a video programmer.
(2) Closed captioning, or captioning. The visual display of the audio
portion of video programming pursuant to the technical specifications
set forth in this part.
(3) Live programming. Video programming that is shown on television
substantially simultaneously with its performance.
(4) Near-live programming. Video programming that is performed and
recorded less than 24 hours prior to the time it is first aired on
(5) New programming. Video programming that is first published or
exhibited on or after January 1, 1998.
(i) Analog video programming that is first published or exhibited on or
after January 1, 1998.
(ii) Digital video programming that is first published or exhibited on
or after July 1, 2002.
(6) Non-exempt programming. Video programming that is not exempt under
paragraph (d) of this section and, accordingly, is subject to closed
captioning requirements set forth in this section.
(7) Prerecorded programming. Video programming that is not "live" or
(8) Pre-rule programming. (i) Analog video programming that was first
published or exhibited before January 1, 1998.
(ii) Digital video programming that was first published or exhibited
before July 1, 2002.
(9) Video programmer. Any entity that provides video programming that
is intended for distribution to residential households including, but
not limited to, broadcast or nonbroadcast television networks and the
owners of such programming.
(10) Video programming. Programming provided by, or generally
considered comparable to programming provided by, a television
broadcast station that is distributed and exhibited for residential
use. Video programming includes advertisements of more than five
minutes in duration but does not include advertisements of five
minutes' duration or less.
(11) Video programming distributor. Any television broadcast station
licensed by the Commission and any multichannel video programming
distributor as defined in § 76.1000(e) of this chapter, and any other
distributor of video programming for residential reception that
delivers such programming directly to the home and is subject to the
jurisdiction of the Commission. An entity contracting for program
distribution over a video programming distributor that is itself exempt
from captioning that programming pursuant to paragraph (e)(9) of this
section shall itself be treated as a video programming distributor for
purposes of this section To the extent such video programming is not
otherwise exempt from captioning, the entity that contracts for its
distribution shall be required to comply with the closed captioning
requirements of this section.
(12) Video programming provider. Any video programming distributor and
any other entity that provides video programming that is intended for
distribution to residential households including, but not limited to
broadcast or nonbroadcast television network and the owners of such
(b) Requirements for closed captioning of video programming--(1)
Requirements for new English language programming. Video programming
distributors must provide closed captioning for nonexempt video
programming that is being distributed and exhibited on each channel
during each calendar quarter in accordance with the following
(i) Between January 1, 2000, and December 31, 2001, a video programming
distributor shall provide at least 450 hours of captioned video
programming or all of its new nonexempt video programming must be
provided with captions, whichever is less;
(ii) Between January 1, 2002, and December 31, 2003, a video
programming distributor shall provide at least 900 hours of captioned
video programming or all of its new nonexempt video programming must be
provided with captions, whichever is less;
(iii) Between January 1, 2004, and December 31, 2005, a video
programming distributor shall provide at least an average of 1350 hours
of captioned video programming or all of its new nonexempt video
programming must be provided with captions, whichever is less; and
(iv) As of January 1, 2006, and thereafter, 100% of the programming
distributor's new nonexempt video programming must be provided with
(2) Requirements for pre-rule English language programming. (i) After
January 1, 2003, 30% of the programming distributor's pre-rule
nonexempt video programming being distributed and exhibited on each
channel during each calendar quarter must be provided with closed
(ii) As of January 1, 2008, and thereafter, 75% of the programming
distributor's pre-rule nonexempt video programming being distributed
and exhibited on each channel during each calendar quarter must be
provided with closed captioning.
(3) Requirements for new Spanish language programming. Video
programming distributors must provide closed captioning for nonexempt
Spanish language video programming that is being distributed and
exhibited on each channel during each calendar quarter in accordance
with the following requirements:
(i) Between January 1, 2001, and December 31, 2003, a video programming
distributor shall provide at least 450 hours of captioned Spanish
language video programming or all of its new nonexempt Spanish language
video programming must be provided with captions, whichever is less;
(ii) Between January 1, 2004, and December 31, 2006, a video
programming distributor shall provide at least 900 hours of captioned
Spanish language video programming or all of its new nonexempt Spanish
language video programming must be provided with captions, whichever is
(iii) Between January 1, 2007, and December 31, 2009, a video
programming distributor shall provide at least an average of 1350 hours
of captioned Spanish language video programming or all of its new
nonexempt Spanish language video programming must be provided with
captions, whichever is less; and
(iv) As of January 1, 2010, and thereafter, 100% of the programming
distributor's new nonexempt Spanish language video programming must be
provided with captions.
(4) Requirements for Spanish language pre-rule programming. (i) After
January 1, 2005, 30% of the programming distributor's pre-rule
nonexempt Spanish language video programming being distributed and
exhibited on each channel during each calendar quarter must be provided
with closed captioning.
(ii) As of January 1, 2012, and thereafter, 75% of the programming
distributor's pre-rule nonexempt Spanish language video programming
being distributed and exhibited on each channel during each calendar
quarter must be provided with closed captioning.
(5) Video programming distributors shall continue to provide captioned
video programming at substantially the same level as the average level
of captioning that they provided during the first six (6) months of
1997 even if that amount of captioning exceeds the requirements
otherwise set forth in this section.
(c) Obligation to pass through captions of already captioned programs;
obligation to maintain equipment and monitor for captions. (1) All
video programming distributors shall deliver all programming received
from the video programming owner or other origination source containing
closed captioning to receiving television households with the original
closed captioning data intact in a format that can be recovered and
displayed by decoders meeting the standards of this part unless such
programming is recaptioned or the captions are reformatted by the
(2) Video programming distributors shall take any steps needed to
monitor and maintain their equipment and signal transmissions
associated with the transmission and distribution of closed captioning
to ensure that the captioning included with video programming reaches
the consumer intact. In any enforcement proceeding involving equipment
failure, the Commission will require video programming distributors to
demonstrate that they have monitored their equipment and signal
transmissions, have performed technical equipment checks, and have
promptly undertaken repairs as needed to ensure that equipment is
operational and in good working order.
(3) Each video programming distributor shall maintain records of the
video programming distributor's monitoring and maintenance activities,
which shall include, without limitation, information about the video
programming distributor's monitoring and maintenance of equipment and
signal transmissions to ensure the pass through and delivery of closed
captioning to viewers, and technical equipment checks and other
activities to ensure that captioning equipment and other related
equipment are maintained in good working order. Each video programming
distributor shall maintain such records for a minimum of two years and
shall submit such records to the Commission upon request.
(d) Exempt programs and providers. For purposes of determining
compliance with this section, any video programming or video
programming provider that meets one or more of the following criteria
shall be exempt to the extent specified in this paragraph.
(1) Programming subject to contractual captioning restrictions. Video
programming that is subject to a contract in effect on or before
February 8, 1996, but not any extension or renewal of such contract,
for which an obligation to provide closed captioning would constitute a
breach of contract.
(2) Video programming or video programming provider for which the
captioning requirement has been waived. Any video programming or video
programming provider for which the Commission has determined that a
requirement for closed captioning is economically burdensome on the
basis of a petition for exemption filed in accordance with the
procedures specified in paragraph (f) of this section.
(3) Programming other than English or Spanish language. All programming
for which the audio is in a language other than English or Spanish,
except that scripted programming that can be captioned using the
"electronic news room" technique is not exempt.
(4) Primarily textual programming. Video programming or portions of
video programming for which the content of the soundtrack is displayed
visually through text or graphics (e.g., program schedule channels or
community bulletin boards).
(5) Programming distributed in the late night hours. Programming that
is being distributed to residential households between 2 a.m. and 6
a.m. local time. Video programming distributors providing a channel
that consists of a service that is distributed and exhibited for
viewing in more than a single time zone shall be exempt from closed
captioning that service for any continuous 4 hour time period they may
select, commencing not earlier than 12 a.m. local time and ending not
later than 7 a.m. local time in any location where that service is
intended for viewing. This exemption is to be determined based on the
primary reception locations and remains applicable even if the
transmission is accessible and distributed or exhibited in other time
zones on a secondary basis. Video programming distributors providing
service outside of the 48 contiguous states may treat as exempt
programming that is exempt under this paragraph when distributed in the
(6) Interstitials, promotional announcements and public service
announcements. Interstitial material, promotional announcements, and
public service announcements that are 10 minutes or less in duration.
(7) EBS programming. Video programming transmitted by an Educational
Broadband Service licensee pursuant to part 27 of this chapter.
(8) Locally produced and distributed non-news programming with no
repeat value. Programming that is locally produced by the video
programming distributor, has no repeat value, is of local public
interest, is not news programming, and for which the "electronic news
room" technique of captioning is unavailable.
(9) Programming on new networks. Programming on a video programming
network for the first four years after it begins operation, except that
programming on a video programming network that was in operation less
than four (4) years on January 1, 1998 is exempt until January 1, 2002.
(10) Primarily non-vocal musical programming. Programming that consists
primarily of non-vocal music.
(11) Captioning expense in excess of 2 percent of gross revenues. No
video programming provider shall be required to expend any money to
caption any video programming if such expenditure would exceed 2
percent of the gross revenues received from that channel during the
previous calendar year.
(12) Channels/Streams producing revenues of under $3,000,000. No video
programming provider shall be required to expend any money to caption
any channel or stream of video programming producing annual gross
revenues of less than $3,000,000 during the previous calendar year
other than the obligation to pass through video programming closed
captioned when received pursuant to paragraph (c) of this section. For
the purposes of this paragraph, each programming stream on a multicast
digital television channel shall be considered separately for purposes
of the $3,000,000 revenue limit.
(13) Locally produced educational programming. Instructional
programming that is locally produced by public television stations for
use in grades K-12 and post secondary schools.
(e) Responsibility for and determination of compliance. (1) Compliance
shall be calculated on a per channel, calendar quarter basis;
(2) Open captioning or subtitles in the language of the target audience
may be used in lieu of closed captioning;
(3) The major national broadcast television networks (i.e., ABC, CBS,
Fox and NBC), affiliates of these networks in the top 25 television
markets as defined by Nielsen's Designated Market Areas (DMAs) and
national nonbroadcast networks serving at least 50% of all homes
subscribing to multichannel video programming services shall not count
electronic newsroom captioned programming towards compliance with these
rules. The live portions of noncommercial broadcasters' fundraising
activities that use automated software to create a continuous captioned
message will be considered captioned;
(4) Compliance will be required with respect to the type of video
programming generally distributed to residential households.
Programming produced solely for closed circuit or private distribution
is not covered by these rules;
(5) Video programming that is exempt pursuant to paragraph (d) of this
section that contains captions, except video programming exempt
pursuant to paragraph (d)(5) of this section (late night hours
exemption), can count towards the compliance with the requirements for
new programming prior to January 1, 2006. Video programming that is
exempt pursuant to paragraph (d) of this section that contains
captions, except that video programming exempt pursuant to paragraph
(d)(5) of this section (late night hours exemption), can count towards
compliance with the requirements for pre-rule programming.
(6) For purposes of paragraph (d)(11) of this section, captioning
expenses include direct expenditures for captioning as well as
allowable costs specifically allocated by a programming supplier
through the price of the video programming to that video programming
provider. To be an allowable allocated cost, a programming supplier may
not allocate more than 100 percent of the costs of captioning to
individual video programming providers. A programming supplier may
allocate the captioning costs only once and may use any commercially
reasonable allocation method;
(7) For purposes of paragraphs (d)(11) and (d)(12) of this section,
annual gross revenues shall be calculated for each channel individually
based on revenues received in the preceding calendar year from all
sources related to the programming on that channel. Revenue for
channels shared between network and local programming shall be
separately calculated for network and for non-network programming, with
neither the network nor the local video programming provider being
required to spend more than 2 percent of its revenues for captioning.
Thus, for example, compliance with respect to a network service
distributed by a multichannel video service distributor, such as a
cable operator, would be calculated based on the revenues received by
the network itself (as would the related captioning expenditure). For
local service providers such as broadcasters, advertising revenues from
station-controlled inventory would be included. For cable operators
providing local origination programming, the annual gross revenues
received for each channel will be used to determine compliance.
Evidence of compliance could include certification from the network
supplier that the requirements of the test had been met. Multichannel
video programming distributors, in calculating non-network revenues for
a channel offered to subscribers as part of a multichannel package or
tier, will not include a pro rata share of subscriber revenues, but
will include all other revenues from the channel, including advertising
and ancillary revenues. Revenues for channels supported by direct sales
of products will include only the revenues from the product sales
activity (e.g., sales commissions) and not the revenues from the actual
products offered to subscribers. Evidence of compliance could include
certification from the network supplier that the requirements of this
test have been met.
(8) If two or more networks (or sources of programming) share a single
channel, that channel shall be considered to be in compliance if each
of the sources of video programming are in compliance where they are
carried on a full time basis;
(9) Video programming distributors shall not be required to provide
closed captioning for video programming that is by law not subject to
their editorial control, including but not limited to the signals of
television broadcast stations distributed pursuant to sections 614 and
615 of the Communications Act or pursuant to the compulsory copyright
licensing provisions of sections 111 and 119 of the Copyright Act
(Title 17 U.S.C. 111 and 119); programming involving candidates for
public office covered by sections 315 and 312 of the Communications Act
and associated policies; commercial leased access, public access,
governmental and educational access programming carried pursuant to
sections 611 and 612 of the Communications Act; video programming
distributed by direct broadcast satellite (DBS) services in compliance
with the noncommercial programming requirement pursuant to section
335(b)(3) of the Communications Act to the extent such video
programming is exempt from the editorial control of the video
programming provider; and video programming distributed by a common
carrier or that is distributed on an open video system pursuant to
section 653 of the Communications Act by an entity other than the open
video system operator. To the extent such video programming is not
otherwise exempt from captioning, the entity that contracts for its
distribution shall be required to comply with the closed captioning
requirements of this section.
(10) In evaluating whether a video programming provider has complied
with the requirement that all new nonexempt video programming must
include closed captioning, the Commission will consider showings that
any lack of captioning was de minimis and reasonable under the
(11) Use of "Electronic Newsroom Technique" (ENT). (i) A broadcast
station that uses ENT to provide closed captioning for live programming
or programming originally transmitted live and that is not subject to
the current prohibition on the use of ENT in paragraph (e)(3) of this
section shall be deemed in compliance with the Commission's rules
requiring captioning of live programming or programming originally
transmitted live if it adheres to the following procedures in the
ordinary course of business:
(A) In-studio produced news, sports, weather, and entertainment
programming will be scripted.
(B) For weather interstitials where there may be multiple segments
within a news program, weather information explaining the visual
information on the screen and conveying forecast information will be
scripted, although the scripts may not precisely track the words used
(C) Pre-produced programming will be scripted (to the extent
(D) If live interviews or live on-the scene or breaking news segments
are not scripted, stations will supplement them with crawls, textual
information, or other means (to the extent technically feasible).
(E) The station will provide training to all news staff on scripting
for improving ENT.
(F) The station will appoint an "ENT Coordinator" accountable for
(ii) Nothing in this paragraph (e)(11) shall relieve a broadcast
station of its obligations under § 79.2 of this chapter regarding the
accessibility of programming providing emergency information.
(iii) Informal complaints. The Commission will forward an informal
complaint regarding captioning to a broadcast station that utilizes ENT
to provide captioning pursuant to the procedures set forth in paragraph
(e)(11)(i) of this section only if the informal complaint contains the
television channel number, network, or call sign, the name of the
subscription service, if relevant, the date and time of the captioning
problems, the name of the affected program, and a detailed and specific
description of the captioning problems, including the frequency and
type of problem.
(iv) Compliance. (A) Initial response to pattern or trend of
noncompliance. If the Commission notifies a broadcast station that the
Commission has identified a pattern or trend of possible noncompliance
by the station with this paragraph (e)(11), the station shall respond
to the Commission within 30 days regarding such possible noncompliance,
describing corrective measures taken, including those measures the
station may have undertaken in response to informal complaints and
inquiries from viewers.
(B) Corrective action plan. If, after the date for a broadcast station
to respond to a notification under paragraph (e)(11)(iv)(A) of this
section, the Commission subsequently notifies the broadcast station
that there is further evidence indicating a pattern or trend of
noncompliance with this paragraph (e)(11), the broadcast station shall
submit to the Commission, within 30 days of receiving such subsequent
notification, an action plan describing specific measures it will take
to bring the station's ENT performance into compliance with this
paragraph (e)(11). In addition, the station shall be required to
conduct spot checks of its ENT performance and report to the Commission
on the results of such action plan and spot checks 180 days after the
submission of such action plan.
(C) Continued evidence of a pattern or trend of noncompliance. If,
after the date for submission of a report on the results of an action
plan and spot checks pursuant to paragraph (e)(11)(iv)(B) of this
section, the Commission finds continued evidence of a pattern or trend
of noncompliance, additional enforcement actions may be taken, which
may include admonishments, forfeitures, and other corrective actions,
including, but not limited to, requiring the station to cease using ENT
and to use real-time captioning for live programming.
(v) Progress report. No later than one year after the effective date of
this paragraph (e)(11), broadcast stations that adhere to the
procedures set forth in paragraph (e)(11)(i) shall jointly prepare and
submit to the Commission, in consultation with individuals who rely on
captions to watch television and organizations representing such
individuals, a report on their experiences with following such
procedures, and the extent to which they have been successful in
providing full and equal access to live programming.
(f) Procedures for exemptions based on economically burdensome
standard. (1) A video programming provider, video programming producer
or video programming owner may petition the Commission for a full or
partial exemption from the closed captioning requirements. Exemptions
may be granted, in whole or in part, for a channel of video
programming, a category or type of video programming, an individual
video service, a specific video program or a video programming provider
upon a finding that the closed captioning requirements will be
(2) A petition for an exemption must be supported by sufficient
evidence to demonstrate that compliance with the requirements to closed
caption video programming would be economically burdensome. The term
"economically burdensome" means significant difficulty or expense.
Factors to be considered when determining whether the requirements for
closed captioning are economically burdensome include:
(i) The nature and cost of the closed captions for the programming;
(ii) The impact on the operation of the provider or program owner;
(iii) The financial resources of the provider or program owner; and
(iv) The type of operations of the provider or program owner.
(3) In addition to these factors, the petition shall describe any other
factors the petitioner deems relevant to the Commission's final
determination and any available alternatives that might constitute a
reasonable substitute for the closed captioning requirements including,
but not limited to, text or graphic display of the content of the audio
portion of the programming. The extent to which the provision of closed
captions is economically burdensome shall be evaluated with regard to
the individual outlet.
(4) A petition requesting an exemption based on the economically
burdensome standard, and all subsequent pleadings, shall be filed
electronically in accordance with § 0.401(a)(1)(iii) of this chapter.
(5) The Commission will place the petition on public notice.
(6) Any interested person may file comments or oppositions to the
petition within 30 days of the public notice of the petition. Within 20
days of the close of the comment period, the petitioner may reply to
any comments or oppositions filed.
(7) Comments or oppositions to the petition shall be filed
electronically and served on the petitioner and shall include a
certification that the petitioner was served with a copy. Replies to
comments or oppositions shall be filed electronically and served on the
commenting or opposing party and shall include a certification that the
commenting or opposing party was served with a copy. Comments or
oppositions and replies may be served upon a party, its attorney, or
other duly constituted agent by delivering or mailing a copy to the
last known address in accordance with § 1.47 of this chapter or by
sending a copy to the email address last provided by the party, its
attorney, or other duly constituted agent.
(8) Upon a showing of good cause, the Commission may lengthen or
shorten any comment period and waive or establish other procedural
(9) All petitions and responsive pleadings shall contain a detailed,
full showing, supported by affidavit, of any facts or considerations
(10) The Commission may deny or approve, in whole or in part, a
petition for an economically burdensome exemption from the closed
(11) During the pendency of an economically burdensome determination,
the video programming subject to the request for exemption shall be
considered exempt from the closed captioning requirements.
(g) Complaint procedures. (1) Complaints concerning an alleged
violation of the closed captioning requirements of this section shall
be filed with the Commission or with the video programming distributor
responsible for delivery and exhibition of the video programming within
sixty (60) days of the problem with captioning. A complaint must be in
writing, must state with specificity the alleged Commission rule
violated and must include some evidence of the alleged rule violation.
(2) Complaints filed first with the Commission will be forwarded to the
appropriate video programming distributor. The video programming
distributor must respond in writing to the Commission and the
complainant within 30 days of the receipt of the complaint from the
(3) Complaints sent to a video programming distributor regarding
programming by a television broadcast station or other programming for
which the video programming distributor is exempt from closed
captioning responsibility pursuant to paragraph (e)(9) of this section,
shall be forwarded by the video programming distributor within seven
(7) days of receipt to the entity responsible for closed captioning of
the programming at issue. The video programming distributor must also
notify the complainant and the Commission that it has forwarded the
complaint. Entities receiving forwarded complaints must respond in
writing to the complainant within 30 days of the forwarding date of the
(4) If a complaint is first filed with the video programming
distributor, the video programming distributor must respond in writing
to the complainant within thirty (30) days after receipt of a closed
captioning complaint. If a video programming distributor fails to
respond to the complainant within thirty (30) days, or the response
does not satisfy the consumer, the complainant may file the complaint
with the Commission within thirty (30) days after the time allotted for
the video programming distributor to respond. If a consumer re-files
the complaint with the Commission (after filing with the distributor),
the Commission will forward the complaint to the distributor, and the
distributor shall respond to the Commission and the complainant within
thirty (30) days of receipt of the complaint from the Commission.
(5) In response to a complaint, a video programming distributor is
obligated to provide the Commission with sufficient records and
documentation to demonstrate that it is in compliance with the
(6) Certifications from programming suppliers, including programming
producers, programming owners, networks, syndicators and other
distributors, may be relied on to demonstrate compliance. Distributors
will not be held responsible for situations where a program source
falsely certifies that programming delivered to the distributor meets
our captioning requirements if the distributor is unaware that the
certification is false. Video programming providers may rely on the
accuracy of certifications. Appropriate action may be taken with
respect to deliberate falsifications.
(7) The Commission will review the complaint, including all supporting
evidence, and determine whether a violation has occurred. The
Commission shall, as needed, request additional information from the
video programming provider.
(8) If the Commission finds that a violation has occurred, penalties
may be imposed, including a requirement that the video programming
distributor deliver video programming containing closed captioning in
an amount exceeding that specified in paragraph (b) of this section in
a future time period.
(h) Private rights of action prohibited. Nothing in this section shall
be construed to authorize any private right of action to enforce any
requirement of this section. The Commission shall have exclusive
jurisdiction with respect to any complaint under this section.
(i) Contact information. (1) Video programming distributors shall make
available contact information for the receipt and handling of immediate
closed captioning concerns raised by consumers while they are watching
a program. Programming distributors must designate a telephone number,
fax number, and e-mail address for purposes of receiving and responding
immediately to any closed captioning concerns. Distributors shall
include this information on their Web sites (if they have a Web site),
in telephone directories, and in billing statements (to the extent the
distributor issues billing statements). Distributors shall keep this
information current and update it to reflect any changes within 10
business days for Web sites, by the next billing cycle for billing
statements, and by the next publication of directories. Video
programming distributors should ensure that any staff reachable through
this contact information has the capability to immediately respond to
and address consumers' concerns. To the extent that a distributor has
personnel available, either on site or remotely, to address any
technical problems that may arise, consumers using this dedicated
contact information must be able to reach someone, either directly or
indirectly, who can address the consumer's captioning concerns. This
provision does not require that distributors alter their hours of
operation or the hours during which they have staffing available; at
the same time, however, where staff is available to address technical
issues that may arise during the course of transmitting programming,
they also must be knowledgeable about and be able to address closed
captioning concerns. In situations where a distributor is not
immediately available, any calls or inquiries received, using this
dedicated contact information, should be returned or otherwise
addressed within 24 hours. In those situations where the captioning
problem does not reside with the distributor, the staff person
receiving the inquiry should refer the matter appropriately for
(2) Video programming distributors shall make contact information
available for the receipt and handling of written closed captioning
complaints that do not raise the type of immediate issues that are
addressed in paragraph (i)(1) of this section. The contact information
required for written complaints shall include the name of a person with
primary responsibility for captioning issues and who can ensure
compliance with our rules. In addition, this contact information shall
include the person's title or office, telephone number, fax number,
postal mailing address, and e-mail address. Distributors shall include
this information on their Web sites (if they have a Web site), in
telephone directories, and in billing statements (to the extent the
distributor issues billing statements). Distributors shall keep this
information current and update it within 10 business days for Web
sites, by the next billing cycle for billing statements, and by the
next publication of directories.
(3) Providing contact information to the Commission. Video programming
distributors shall file the contact information described in this
section with the Commission in one of the following ways: Through a web
form located on the FCC Web site; with the Chief of the Disability
Rights Office, Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau; or by sending
an email to CLOSEDCAPTIONING_POC@fcc.gov. Contact information shall be
available to consumers on the FCC Web site or by telephone inquiry to
the Commission's Consumer Center. Distributors shall notify the
Commission each time there is a change in any of this required
information within 10 business days.
(j) Captioning quality obligation; standards. (1) A video programming
distributor shall exercise best efforts to obtain a certification from
each video programmer from which the distributor obtains programming
(i) That the video programmer's programming satisfies the caption
quality standards of paragraph (j)(2) of this section;
(ii) That in the ordinary course of business, the video programmer has
adopted and follows the Best Practices set forth in paragraph (k)(1) of
this section; or
(iii) That the video programmer is exempt from the closed captioning
rules under one or more properly attained exemptions. For programmers
certifying exemption from the closed captioning rules, the video
programming distributor must obtain a certification from the programmer
that specifies the exact exemption that the programmer is claiming.
Video programming distributors may satisfy their best efforts
obligation by locating a programmer's certification on the programmer's
Web site or other widely available locations used for the purpose of
posting widely available certifications. If a video programming
distributor is unable to locate such certification on the programmer's
Web site or other widely available location used for the purpose of
posting such certification, the video programming distributor must
inform the video programmer in writing that it must make widely
available such certification within 30 days after receiving the written
request. If a video programmer does not make such certification widely
available within 30 days after receiving a written request, the video
programming distributor shall promptly submit a report to the
Commission identifying such non-certifying video programmer for the
purpose of being placed in a publicly available database. A video
programming distributor that meets each of the requirements of this
paragraph shall not be liable for violations of paragraphs (j)(2) and
(3) of this section to the extent that any such violations are outside
the control of the video programming distributor.
(2) Captioning quality standards. Closed captioning shall convey the
aural content of video programming in the original language (i.e.
English or Spanish) to individuals who are deaf and hard of hearing to
the same extent that the audio track conveys such content to
individuals who are able to hear. Captioning shall be accurate,
synchronous, complete, and appropriately placed as those terms are
(i) Accuracy. Captioning shall match the spoken words (or song lyrics
when provided on the audio track) in their original language (English
or Spanish), in the order spoken, without substituting words for proper
names and places, and without paraphrasing, except to the extent that
paraphrasing is necessary to resolve any time constraints. Captions
shall contain proper spelling (including appropriate homophones),
appropriate punctuation and capitalization, correct tense and use of
singular or plural forms, and accurate representation of numbers with
appropriate symbols or words. If slang or grammatical errors are
intentionally used in a program's dialogue, they shall be mirrored in
the captions. Captioning shall provide nonverbal information that is
not observable, such as the identity of speakers, the existence of
music (whether or not there are also lyrics to be captioned), sound
effects, and audience reaction, to the greatest extent possible, given
the nature of the program. Captions shall be legible, with appropriate
spacing between words for readability.
(ii) Synchronicity. Captioning shall coincide with the corresponding
spoken words and sounds to the greatest extent possible, given the type
of the programming. Captions shall begin to appear at the time that the
corresponding speech or sounds begin and end approximately when the
speech or sounds end. Captions shall be displayed on the screen at a
speed that permits them to be read by viewers.
(iii) Completeness. Captioning shall run from the beginning to the end
of the program, to the fullest extent possible.
(iv) Placement. Captioning shall be viewable and shall not block other
important visual content on the screen, including, but not limited to,
character faces, featured text (e.g., weather or other news updates,
graphics and credits), and other information that is essential to
understanding a program's content when the closed captioning feature is
activated. Caption font shall be sized appropriately for legibility.
Lines of caption shall not overlap one another and captions shall be
adequately positioned so that they do not run off the edge of the video
(3) Application of captioning quality standards. Captioning shall meet
the standards of paragraph (j)(2) of this section for accuracy,
synchronicity, completeness and placement, except for de minimis
captioning errors. In determining whether a captioning error is de
minimis, the Commission will consider the particular circumstances
presented, including the type of failure, the reason for the failure,
whether the failure was one-time or continuing, the degree to which the
program was understandable despite the errors, and the time frame
within which corrective action was taken to prevent such failures from
recurring. When applying such standards to live and near-live
programming, the Commission will also take into account, on a
case-by-case basis, the following factors:
(i) Accuracy. The overall accuracy or understandability of the
programming, the ability of the captions to convey the aural content of
the program in a manner equivalent to the aural track, and the extent
to which the captioning errors prevented viewers from having access to
(ii) Synchronicity. The extent to which measures have been taken, to
the extent technically feasible, to keep any delay in the presentation
of captions to a minimum, consistent with an accurate presentation of
what is being said, so that the time between when words are spoken or
sounds occur and captions appear does not interfere with the ability of
viewers to follow the program.
(iii) Completeness. The delays inherent in sending captioning
transmissions on live programs, and whether steps have been taken, to
the extent technically feasible, to minimize the lag between the time a
program's audio is heard and the time that captions appear, so that
captions are not cut off when the program transitions to a commercial
or a subsequent program.
(iv) Placement. The type and nature of the programming and its
susceptibility to unintentional blocking by captions.
(4) Complaints. The Commission will forward an informal complaint
regarding captioning quality to a video programming distributor only if
the informal complaint contains the channel number, channel name,
network, or call sign; the name of the multichannel video program
distributor, if applicable; the date and time when the captioning
problem occurred; the name of the program with the captioning problem;
and a detailed description of the captioning problem, including
specifics about the frequency and type of problem (e.g., garbling,
captions cut off at certain times or on certain days, and accuracy
(k) Captioning Best Practices--(1) Video Programmer Best Practices.
Video programmers adopting Best Practices will adhere to the following
(i) Agreements with captioning services. Video programmers adopting
Best Practices will take the following actions to promote the provision
of high quality television closed captions through new or renewed
agreements with captioning vendors.
(A) Performance requirements. Include performance requirements designed
to promote the creation of high quality closed captions for video
programming, comparable to those described in paragraphs (k)(2), (k)(3)
and (k)(4) of this section.
(B) Verification. Include a means of verifying compliance with such
performance requirements, such as through periodic spot checks of
(C) Training. Include provisions designed to ensure that captioning
vendors' employees and contractors who provide caption services have
received appropriate training and that there is oversight of individual
(ii) Operational Best Practices. Video programmers adopting Best
Practices will take the following actions to promote delivery of high
quality television captions through improved operations.
(A) Preparation materials. To the extent available, provide captioning
vendors with advance access to preparation materials such as show
scripts, lists of proper names (people and places), and song lyrics
used in the program, as well as to any dress rehearsal or rundown that
is available and relevant.
(B) Quality audio. Make commercially reasonable efforts to provide
captioning vendors with access to a high quality program audio signal
to promote accurate transcription and minimize latency.
(C) Captioning for prerecorded programming. (1) The presumption is that
pre-recorded programs, excluding programs that initially aired with
real-time captions, will be captioned offline before air except when,
in the exercise of a programmer's commercially reasonable judgment,
circumstances require real-time or live display captioning. Examples of
commercially reasonable exceptions may include instances when:
(i) A programmer's production is completed too close to initial air
time be captioned offline or may require editorial changes up to air
time (e.g., news content, reality shows),
(ii) A program is delivered late,
(iii) There are technical problems with the caption file,
(iv) Last minute changes must be made to later network feeds (e.g.,
when shown in a later time zone) due to unforeseen circumstances,
(v) There are proprietary or confidentiality considerations, or
(vi) Video programming networks or channels with a high proportion of
live or topical time-sensitive programming, but also some pre-recorded
programs, use real-time captioning for all content (including
pre-recorded programs) to allow for immediate captioning of events or
breaking news stories that interrupt scheduled programming.
(2) The video programmer will make reasonable efforts to employ live
display captioning instead of real-time captioning for prerecorded
programs if the complete program can be delivered to the caption
service provider in sufficient time prior to airing.
(iii) Monitoring and Remedial Best Practices. Video programmers
adopting Best Practices will take the following actions aimed at
improving prompt identification and remediation of captioning errors
when they occur.
(A) Pre-air monitoring of offline captions. As part of the overall
pre-air quality control process for television programs, conduct
periodic checks of offline captions on prerecorded programs to
determine the presence of captions.
(B) Real-time monitoring of captions. Monitor television program
streams at point of origination (e.g., monitors located at the network
master control point or electronic monitoring) to determine presence of
(C) Programmer and captioning vendor contacts. Provide to captioning
vendors appropriate staff contacts who can assist in resolving
captioning issues. Make captioning vendor contact information readily
available in master control or other centralized location, and contact
captioning vendor promptly if there is a caption loss or obvious
compromise of captions.
(D) Recording of captioning issues. Maintain a log of reported
captioning issues, including date, time of day, program title, and
description of the issue. Beginning one year after the effective date
of the captioning quality standards, such log should reflect reported
captioning issues from the prior year.
(E) Troubleshooting protocol. Develop procedures for troubleshooting
consumer captioning complaints within the distribution chain, including
identifying relevant points of contact, and work to promptly resolve
captioning issues, if possible.
(F) Accuracy spot checks. Within 30 days following notification of a
pattern or trend of complaints from the Commission, conduct spot checks
of television program captions to assess caption quality and address
any ongoing concerns.
(iv) Certification procedures for video programmers. Video programmers
adopting Best Practices will certify to video programming distributors
that they adhere to Best Practices for video programmers and will make
such certifications widely available to video programming distributors,
for example, by posting on affiliate Web sites.
(2) Real-Time (Live) Captioning Vendors Best Practices. (i) Create and
use metrics to assess accuracy, synchronicity, completeness, and
placement of real-time captions.
(ii) Establish minimum acceptable standards based upon those metrics
while striving to regularly exceed those minimum standards.
(iii) Perform frequent and regular evaluations and sample audits to
ensure those standards are maintained.
(iv) Consider "accuracy" of captions to be a measurement of the
percentage of correct words out of total words in the program,
calculated by subtracting number of errors from total number of words
in the program, dividing that number by total number of words in the
program and converting that number to a percentage. For example, 7,000
total words in the program minus 70 errors equals 6,930 correct words
captioned, divided by 7,000 total words in the program equals 0.99 or
(v) Consider, at a minimum, mistranslated words, incorrect words,
misspelled words, missing words, and incorrect punctuation that impedes
comprehension and misinformation as errors.
(A) Captions are written in a near-as-verbatim style as possible,
(B) The intended message of the spoken dialogue is conveyed in the
associated captions in a clear and comprehensive manner.
(C) Music lyrics should accompany artist performances.
(vi) Consider synchronicity of captions to be a measurement of lag
between the spoken word supplied by the program origination point and
when captions are received at the same program origination point.
(vii) Ensure placement of captions on screen to avoid obscuring
on-screen information and graphics (e.g., sports coverage).
(viii) Ensure proper screening, training, supervision, and evaluation
of captioners by experienced and qualified real-time captioning
(ix) Ensure there is an infrastructure that provides technical and
other support to video programmers and captioners at all times.
(x) Ensure that captioners are qualified for the type and difficulty
level of the programs to which they are assigned.
(xi) Utilize a system that verifies captioners are prepared and in
position prior to a scheduled assignment.
(xii) Ensure that technical systems are functional and allow for
fastest possible delivery of caption data and that failover systems are
in place to prevent service interruptions.
(xiii) Regularly review discrepancy reports in order to correct issues
and avoid future issues.
(xiv) Respond in a timely manner to concerns raised by video
programmers or viewers.
(xv) Alert video programmers immediately if a technical issue needs to
be addressed on their end.
(xvi) Inform video programmers of appropriate use of real-time
captioning (i.e., for live and near-live programming, and not for
prerecorded programming) and what is necessary to produce quality
captions, including technical requirements and the need for preparatory
(xvii) For better coordination for ensuring high quality captions and
for addressing problems as they arise, understand the roles and
responsibilities of other stakeholders in the closed-captioning
process, including broadcasters, producers, equipment manufacturers,
regulators, and viewers, and keep abreast of issues and developments in
(xviii) Ensure that all contracted captioners adhere to the Real-Time
Captioners Best Practices contained in paragraph (k)(4) of this
(3) Real-Time Captioners Best Practices. (i) Caption as accurately,
synchronously, completely, and appropriately placed as possible, given
the nature of the programming.
(ii) Ensure they are equipped with a failover plan to minimize caption
interruption due to captioner or equipment malfunction.
(iii) Be equipped with reliable, high speed Internet.
(iv) Be equipped with multiple telephone lines.
(v) Prepare as thoroughly as possible for each program.
(vi) File thorough discrepancy reports with the captioning vendor in a
(vii) To the extent possible given the circumstances of the program,
ensure that real-time captions are complete when the program ends.
(viii) Engage the command that allows captions to pass at commercials
and conclusion of broadcasts.
(ix) Monitor captions to allow for immediate correction of errors and
prevention of similar errors appearing or repeating in captions.
(x) Perform frequent and regular self-evaluations.
(xi) Perform regular dictionary maintenance.
(xii) Keep captioning equipment in good working order and update
software and equipment as needed.
(xiii) Possess the technical skills to troubleshoot technical issues.
(xiv) Keep abreast of current events and topics that they caption.
(4) Offline (Prerecorded) Captioning Vendors Best Practices. (i) Ensure
offline captions are verbatim.
(ii) Ensure offline captions are error-free.
(iii) Ensure offline captions are punctuated correctly and in a manner
that facilitates comprehension.
(iv) Ensure offline captions are synchronized with the audio of the
(v) Ensure offline captions are displayed with enough time to be read
completely and that they do not obscure the visual content.
(vii) Ensure offline captioning is a complete textual representation of
the audio, including speaker identification and non-speech information.
(viii) Create or designate a manual of style to be applied in an effort
to achieve uniformity in presentation.
(ix) Employ frequent and regular evaluations to ensure standards are
(x) Inform video programmers of appropriate uses of real-time and
offline captioning and strive to provide offline captioning for
(A) Encourage use of offline captioning for live and near-live
programming that originally aired on television and re-feeds at a later
(B) Encourage use of offline captioning for all original and library
prerecorded programming completed well in advance of its distribution
(xi) For better coordination for ensuring high quality captions and for
addressing problems as they arise, understand the roles and
responsibilities of other stakeholders in the closed-captioning
process, including video program distributors, video programmers,
producers, equipment manufacturers, regulators, and viewers, and keep
abreast of issues and developments in those sectors.
[ 62 FR 48493 , Sept. 16, 1997, as amended at 63 FR 55962 , Oct. 20, 1998;
64 FR 33424 , June 23, 1999; 65 FR 58477 , Sept. 29, 2000; 69 FR 72047 ,
Dec. 10, 2004; 74 FR 1604 , Jan. 13, 2009; 74 FR 46703 , Sept. 11, 2009;
75 FR 7369 , Feb. 19, 2010; 77 FR 19515 , Mar. 30, 2012; 77 FR 48104 ,
Aug. 13, 2012; 79 FR 17926 , Mar. 31, 2014]
Effective Date Note 1: At 75 FR 7369 , Feb. 19, 2010, paragraph (g)(3)
Effective Date Note 2: At 79 FR 17926 , Mar. 31, 2014, § 79.1 was
amended by revising paragraph (c)(3) and adding paragraphs
(e)(11)(iii), (iv), (v), (j) and (k). These paragraphs contain
information collection and recordkeeping requirements and will not
become effective until approval has been given by the Office of
Management and Budget.
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