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FCC Issues Final Rules for Closed Captioning

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has issued final rules in accordance with Section 713 of the Communications Act to enhance the quality of closed captioning.  Despite previous rules, the FCC has continually received comments noting that captions are often found to be “inaccurate, garbled, incomplete, misspelled and/or misunderstood, incomprehensible, obscure the speaker, or significantly lag behind the spoken words they are intended to convey.”  The final rules require that captions are accurate and synchronous in portraying the spoken words and background noises, are present for the whole program, and are placed in such a way that they do not block important visual content. Also adopted are rules which require broadcasters “who utilize Electronic Newsroom Technique (ENT)” to ensure that all news scripted for the teleprompter is also captioned. In order to ensure technical compliance of the rules, the R&O specifies that video programming distributors must “monitor and maintain their equipment,” in addition to keeping records of any “maintenance, monitoring and technical checks of their captioning equipment.”  Finally, the rules provide best practices for video programmers, and off-line and real-time captioning vendors and captioners. The requirements presented in the final rules become effective January 15, 2015.

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The Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center for Wireless Technologies is sponsored by the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services under grant number 90RE5007-01-00. The opinions contained in this website are those of the Wireless RERC and do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services or NIDILRR.