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FCC Moves to Upgrade TV Closed Captioning Quality

February 20, 2014
Source: Federal Communications Commission (FCC)

On February 20, 2014, the FCC unanimously approved standards defining the components necessary for high quality closed captions on television. The new standards explain that to be fully accessible, closed captions on television programs must accurately convey dialogue and sounds in the program, and run from the beginning to the end of the program. In addition, captions must be timed so that they generally do not lag far behind the program dialogue and must be placed so they do not block other important information on the screen.

The Order explains how the new standards apply to pre-recorded, live, and near-live programming. Also, the Order identifies best practices for video programmers, captioning vendors, and captioners.

The new rules also ensure better access to local news on TV. Local news programs that are not captioned in real-time must have pre-scripting of sports, weather, and most late-breaking stories. The new rules also require that crawls and other visual information be used if pre-scripting is not possible.

The new rules will be evaluated again one year after they become effective to ensure full access to TV programming.

Also, this Report and Order includes a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FNPRM) that seeks comment on captioning responsibilities, and on other ways to improve access to television programming. The dates of the comment and reply comment period will be announced when available.

For more information about Closed Captioning for Television, visit:

Report and Order - Declaratory Ruling - Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FNPRM) (February 24, 2014)

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