Comcast, Court TV Violated Caption Rules

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The Federal Communications Commission has found that Comcast Corp. and Court TV violated its rules in early 2000 by failing to provide enough closed-captioned programming for the hearing impaired.

The FCC said it declined to fine the companies, as both now comply with the rules.

On Jan. 11, the FCC acted on a complaint filed by Comcast subscriber Kelby Nathan Brick in Prince George's County, Md. Brick claimed that Court TV fell short of the agency's captioning time quotas.

Court TV failed to caption a minimum of 450 hours of new programming, the FCC said. Instead, the cable network provided between 195 and 350 hours of captioning.

FCC rules require Comcast to police programmers' compliance with captioning requirements.

Comcast told the FCC that Court TV furnished inaccurate data. The commission, however, concluded that the MSO should have known the network fell short of the 450-hour mandate, based on letters Comcast received from Court TV.

"As a distributor of programming, Comcast is responsible for ensuring that the programming it distributes on its systems complies with the [FCC's] captioning rules. It failed to do so here," the agency said in a five-page order signed by W. Kenneth Ferree, chief of the Cable Services Bureau.

Court TV rectified the situation by quickly exceeding the FCC's requirements. The network said it captioned 530 hours of programming during the third quarter of 2000 and 549 hours in the fourth quarter.

"As there has been a successful, albeit delayed, effort to comply with the captioning requirements, penalties, sanctions or other remedial measures are not warranted at this time," the FCC said.

Brick had recommended fines, as well as extensive captioning-rules reporting requirements for MSOs.

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