Comcast, Court TV Violated Captioning Rules


The Federal Communications Commission found that Comcast Corp. and Courtroom
Television Network violated agency rules in early 2000 by failing to caption
enough hours of programming for the hearing-impaired.

The FCC declined to fine the firms, saying both are now complying with the

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

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

Under FCC rules, Comcast is required to police programmer compliance with
captioning requirements.

Comcast told the FCC Court TV furnished inaccurate data, but the commission
concluded that Comcast should have know from Court TV's letters to the MSO that
the network was falling short of the 450-hour mandate.

'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.
Court TV said it captioned 530 hours of programming in 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 and extensive MSO reporting requirements with
captioning rules.