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Section 79.1(d) of the Commission's rules contains several exemptions to the closed captioning rules. These are self-implementing exemptions, meaning that a provider does not need to seek Commission approval of the claimed exemption. As such, the Commission does not "certify" that a provider falls within a self-implementing exemption.

If a program or provider does not meet the criteria for one of these self-implementing exemptions, and it would be economically burdensome to close caption, we direct you to Section 79.1(f) and the process for seeking an exemption on this basis.

For purposes of determining compliance with Section 79.1, any video programming provider that meets one or more of the following criteria shall be exempt to the extent specified.

(1) Programming subject to contractual captioning restrictions. Video programming that is subject to a contract in effect on or before February 8, 1996, but not any extension or renewal of such contract, for which an obligation to provide closed captioning would constitute a breach of contract.

(2) Video programming or video programming provider for which the captioning requirement has been waived. Any video programming or video programming provider for which the Commission has determined that a requirement for closed captioning is economically burdensome on the basis of a petition for exemption filed in accordance with the procedures specified in paragraph (f) of this section.

(3) Programming other than English or Spanish language. All programming for which the audio is in a language other than English or Spanish, except that scripted programming that can be captioned using the "electronic news room" technique is not exempt.

(4) Primarily textual programming. Video programming or portions of video programming for which the content of the soundtrack is displayed visually through text or graphics (e.g., program schedule channels or community bulletin boards).

(5) Programming distributed in the late night hours. Programming that is being distributed to residential households between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m. local time. Video programming distributors providing a channel that consists of a service that is distributed and exhibited for viewing in more than a single time zone shall be exempt from closed captioning that service for any continuous 4 hour time period they may select, commencing not earlier than 12 a.m. local time and ending not later than 7 a.m. local time in any location where that service is intended for viewing. This exemption is to be determined based on the primary reception locations and remains applicable even if the transmission is accessible and distributed or exhibited in other time zones on a secondary basis. Video programming distributors providing service outside of the 48 contiguous states may treat as exempt programming that is exempt under this paragraph when distributed in the contiguous states.

(6) Interstitials, promotional announcements and public service announcements. Interstitial material, promotional announcements, and public service announcements that are 10 minutes or less in duration.

(7) EBS programming. Video programming transmitted by Educational Broadband Service licensee pursuant to Part 27 of this Chapter.

(8) Locally produced and distributed non-news programming with no repeat value. Programming that is locally produced by the video programming distributor, has no repeat value, is of local public interest, is not news programming, and for which the "electronic news room" technique of captioning is unavailable. (See ¶ 158 of 1997 R&Oand ¶¶ 57-61 of 1998 Recon Order.)

(9) Programming on new networks. Programming on a video programming network for the first four years after it begins operation, except that programming on a video programming network that was in operation less than four (4) years on January 1,1998 is exempt until January 1, 2002.

(10) Primarily non-vocal musical programming. Programming that consists primarily of non-vocal music.

(11) Captioning expense in excess of 2% of gross revenues. No video programming provider shall be required to expend any money to caption any video programming if such expenditure would exceed 2% of the gross revenues received from that channel during the previous calendar year.

(12) Channels producing revenues of under $3,000,000. No video programming provider shall be required to expend any money to caption any channel of video programming producing annual gross revenues of less than $3,000,000 during the previous calendar year other than the obligation to pass through video programming already captioned when received pursuant to paragraph (c) of this section.

(13) Locally produced educational programming. Instructional programming that is locally produced by public television stations for use in grades K-12 and post secondary schools.

For the most recent revisions, please visit the eCFR.

Even if a program or a provider is exempt under the Commission’s rules, it may still have obligations under other federal laws to make its video programming accessible to individuals with disabilities.

Tuesday, May 4, 2021