Earlier this year the FCC adopted rules for IP delivery of closed captions in video programming and these regulations are starting to go into effect. Wednesday at the SMPTE conference, the FCC’s Alison Greenwald Neplokh provided an overview of what content owners, distributors and manufacturers need to know.
The basics state that the content owners must provide captions to the distributors, the distributors must pass through closed captions, program providers must ensure that the end user can view the captions, and the physical devices (including bundled software) must ensure that end users can view the captions.
The FCC adopted SMPTE Timed Text (SMPTE-TT) as a safe harbor.
Closed captions need to be a priority for manufacturers if they are updating devices with new features. For available devices, waivers or exemptions are options if certain conditions exist. For instance, device makers can get an exception if meeting the requirement proves technically infeasible (the device can’t be modified with "reasonable effort or expense") or if support for screens smaller than 13 inches is not achievable. Manufacturers could also get a waiver if the device is designed primarily for purposes other than receiving and playing back programming.
Some outstanding petitions could result in revisions to the FCC rules. For instance the Consumer Electronics Association is asking that the FCC rules not cover removable media players, and Telecommunciation for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing wants the regulations to include video clips (including news).