FCC Shares Captioning Responsibilities

Programmers Also on Hook for Captions and Their Quality

A unanimous FCC has decided to share program distributors' responsibility for the quality of closed captions with the program producers who supply them.

That came at the FCC’s Feb. 18 public meeting.

In continuing to implement the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA), the commissioners unanimously voted to make programmers responsible for caption issues within their control -- i.e., in production or transmission to distributors like cable operators and broadcasters -- while distributors will continue to be responsible for quality and transmission issues within their control.

The item also updates the complaint process to allow distributors and programmers to make best efforts to resolve complaints before they are considered for FCC enforcement.

In keeping with the move to make programmers responsible for captioning issues, their closed captioning certifications will now go directly to the FCC, rather than first to the distributors.

FCC chairman Tom Wheeler, who has made disability accessibility a priority, said the item was about the responsibility to those who "hear with their eyes," and for those who provide closed captioning "whether they create it or distribute it."