Web videos taken from shows that aired on TV with closed captioning also will have to offer the text option online, the FCC ruled today. “Americans living with intellectual and physical disabilities stand to benefit the most from broadband-enabled technologies but are among the least connected segments of our society,” FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler says.
Congress authorized the rule making in the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010, which is designed to promote equal access to all forms of programming. In 2012 the FCC required closed captioning in full-length TV shows offered online but not in clips.
Regulators hope to address that in stages. Closed captioning will be required on so-called “straight lift” clips using the same audio and video by 2016. A year later, the rule will apply to montages involving multiple straight-lift clips. And by mid-2017, closed captioning will be required on live and near-live TV over the web, including news and sports. Distributors will have 12 hours to add the captioning to live video and eight hours for near-live events “in order to give distributors flexibility to post time-sensitive clips online without delay,” the FCC says.
The proposal had bipartisan support, though GOP Commissioner Ajit Pai, who concurred, questioned the potential cost. “I asked for a cost-benefit analysis, but it never arrived,” he says. “High-level rhetoric and appealing slogans are nice, but an administrative agency’s rulemaking process demands more.” Small entities in particular “may stop uploading clips onto the Internet altogether or may limit the number of clips they post. This would reduce the availability of news programming online—an outcome that wouldn’t serve anyone’s interests.”