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’s difficult to hear a TV program. On January 12, 2012, the FCC adopted rules requiring captioned programs shown on TV to be captioned when re-shown on the Internet. Those rules implement provisions of the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 (CVAA).
Q: What type of programming is required to be captioned?
- The 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.
Q: Are there any specific timeframes or deadlines for implementing these rules?
The following timeframes apply to video programming that a distributor shows for the first time on the Internet:
- Pre-recorded video programming that is not "edited for the Internet" must be captioned on the Internet if it is shown on TV with captions on or after Sept. 30, 2012. "Edited for the Internet" means the TV version has been substantially edited.
- Live and near-live video programming (programming that is performed and recorded less than 24 hours before being shown on TV for the first time) must be captioned on the Internet if it is shown on TV with captions on or after March 30, 2013.
- Pre-recorded video programming that is substantially edited for the Internet must be captioned if it is shown on TV with captions on or after Sept. 30, 2013.
The following deadlines apply to video programming that a distributor already shows on the Internet:
- 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.
If you experience a captioning problem after the implementation dates, you may file a complaint with either the FCC or the video programming distributor/provider. If you file your complaint with the FCC, the FCC will forward the complaint to the video programming distributor/provider. Your complaint must be filed within 60 days of the captioning problem. After receiving a complaint, the video programming distributor/provider will have 30 days to respond to the complaint.
How to File a Complaint with the FCC
You must include your name, address, contact information and as much detail about your complaint as possible. To file a complaint, please visit www.fcc.gov/complaints. You can also file your complaint with the FCC’s Consumer Center by calling 1-888-CALL-FCC (1-888-225-5322) voice or 1-888-TELL-FCC (1-888-835-5322) for TTY; or writing to:
Federal Communications Commission
Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau
Consumer Inquiries and Complaints Division
445 12th Street, SW
Washington, D.C. 20554
For more information about the captioning of Internet video programming, please see the FCC consumer guide Captioning of Internet Video Programming or visit the FCC's Disability Rights Office website.