Captioning Mandates in the New Year

MandatesYour Cheat Sheet to Internet captioning requirements through 2017

For broadcasters and cable programmers already grappling with the FCC’s closed captioning mandates, 2016 and 2017 will bring even more new requirements – this time for video distributed over the internet. These new captioning requirements will extend the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA) and are developing at a time when audiences are watching less content over cable (or over the air) and more content on internet-enabled devices (what we call over-the-top or “OTT”).

What’s New?

While captioning requirements for full-length internet video was previously covered by the CVAA, in their July 2014 meeting the FCC adopted new regulations and compliance deadlines to address video “clips” distributed over the internet.

When the FCC talks about internet video clips, they’re establishing rules for video content that is first broadcast (including the requisite captions), then distributed over IP (internet protocol). This allows the rules to cover video sent to internet-connected devices: things like computers, mobile devices, tablets, smart TVs, and game consoles.

Who is Exempt?Mandates

However, these rules only apply if the program is originally shown on TV with captions, and only if a distributor shows the program on TV and then posts
the clip to its own website or application. These rules do not apply to clips already residing in the distributor’s online library before the January 1, 2016 compliance deadline. The FCC deemed it “economically burdensome” for internet distributors to search their libraries for clips which need to be captioned.

Also exempt from this rule, as of this writing, are websites or applications that are not the original content owner. This would include third-party distributors of video clips – an interesting distinction at a time when the overwhelming majority of internet video consumption occurs at the sites of video aggregators such as Hulu, Netflix, YouTube and iTunes.

 The Deadlines

Jan 1, 2016 – Content programmers are required to caption “straight lift” clips: video clips containing a single excerpt of a captioned TV program with the same audio and video as broadcast. 

Jan 1, 2017 – Internet video clip captioning requirements are extended to promos, highlights and other montage videos where a single video contains multiple “straight lifts”.

Jul 1, 2017 – Mandates go into effect for video clips of live and near-live programming such as news and sports.

  • A 12-hour delay is granted to caption live clips for web consumption
  • Near-live (programming performed and recorded less than 24 hours before it was first shown on TV) clips have an 8-hour window to comply with the captioning rules

Telestream can provide you with excellent tools to help you author, edit and distribute closed captions along with your internet video.

Coming soon: We’ll discuss captioning requirements for full-length internet video. You can subscribe to this blog for regular info and updates on closed captioning mandates.

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