Closed captioning is the visual display of the audio portion of video programming. Captioning provides access to individuals who are deaf or have hearing loss and is often used in places where it is difficult to hear a TV program, such as restaurants and exercise facilities. FCC rules require captioned programs shown on TV to be captioned when re-shown on the Internet.
Video programming rules
- FCC rules cover full-length video programming. Video clips and outtakes are not required to be captioned when shown on the Internet. However, when a captioned TV program is re-shown on the Internet in segments, it must be captioned if substantial portions of the entire program are shown in those segments.
- Consumer-generated media (e.g., homemade videos) shown on the Internet are not required to be captioned, unless it has been shown on TV with captions.
- Movies shown on the Internet are not required to be captioned unless they have been shown on TV with captions.
Archival internet video programming
The following deadlines apply to video programming that a distributor already shows on the Internet. Distributors have extra time to add captions to video programming that they already show on the Internet and that is later shown on TV with captions, as follows:
- Within 45 days after the date it is shown on TV with captions on or after March 30, 2014 and before March 30, 2015;
- Within 30 days after the date it is shown on TV with captions on or after March 30, 2015 and before March 30, 2016; and
- Within 15 days after the date it is shown on TV with captions on or after March 30, 2016.
Filing a complaint
If you experience a captioning problem after the implementation dates, you may file a written complaint with either the FCC or the video programming distributor or provider. If you choose to file your written complaint with the video programming distributor or provider, you may be able to find the contact information on the distributor's or provider's website. If you file your complaint with the FCC, the FCC will forward the complaint to the video programming distributor or provider.
Your written complaint must be filed within 60 days of the captioning problem. After receiving a complaint, either directly from you or from the FCC, the video programming distributor or provider will have 30 days to respond to the complaint. If you chose to first file your complaint with the video programming distributor or provider and it does not respond within 30 days, or if a dispute remains, you can still send your complaint to the FCC.
You have multiple options for filing a complaint with the FCC:
- File a complaint online
- By phone: 1-888-CALL-FCC (1-888-225-5322); TTY: 1-888-TELL-FCC (1-888-835-5322)
- By mail (please include include your name, address, contact information and as much detail about your complaint as possible):
Federal Communications Commission
Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau
Consumer Inquiries and Complaints Division
445 12th Street, S.W.
Washington, DC 20554
What to include in your complaint
Your complaint should include the following information:
- The name and postal address, website, or email address of the video programming distributor, provider and/or owner
- The video program or show with the captioning problem, including the name of the program or show
- The device and/or software used to view the program or show
- The date and time when you experienced the captioning problem
- A detailed description of the captioning problem, including specifics about the frequency and type of problem (e.g., captions cut off, captions missing)
- Any additional information that may assist in processing your complaint
Resolution of your complaint may be delayed if the information above is incomplete.
You can also provide the FCC with any additional information you think appropriate (e.g., screen shots of the web page, written-out examples of garbled captions, video recordings you made of the captioning problem, etc.).
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