by Davis Wright Tremaine LLP on 4/2/2012

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Report and Order (R&O) on Closed Captioning of Internet-Protocol-Delivered Video Programming appeared today in the Mar. 30, 2012 Federal Register.

[authors: Maria T. Browne, Brendan Holland, Brian J. Hurh, and Ronald G. London]

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Report and Order (R&O) on Closed Captioning of Internet-Protocol-Delivered Video Programming appeared today in the Mar. 30, 2012 Federal Register. As described in our Closed Captioning Rules for Online Video Programming advisory, Federal Register publication of the R&O starts the clock toward compliance deadlines for certain of the new rules for the closed captioning of video programming delivered via Internet protocol (i.e., IP video), as required by the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA).

As discussed in our advisory on the CVAA and our overview of the Report by the Video Programming Accessibility Advisory Committee (VPAAC) making recommendations for FCC implementation, the CVAA compelled the FCC to adopt rules that require captioning of IP video programming that was published or exhibited with captions on TV after the effective date of such regulations (covered IP video). Publication of the R&O in the Federal Register establishes Apr. 30, 2012 as the effective date for the rules adopted therein. Thus, any video programming that appears on television with captions after Apr. 30, 2012, is covered IP video. Federal Register publication of the R&O also sets the deadlines for ensuring that such covered IP video appears online with captions as follows:

Covered IP video that is prerecorded and unedited for online distribution must appear with the same amount and quality of captions when delivered online (to, for example, PCs, tablets, smartphones, BluRay and DVD players) as on TV no later than Sept. 30, 2012; Covered IP video that is or was aired live or “near-live” on TV must appear with the same amount and quality of captions when delivered online as on TV no later than Mar. 30, 2013; and Covered IP video that is prerecorded and edited for online distribution must appear with the same amount and quality of captions when delivered online as on TV no later than Sept. 30, 2013. In addition, for programming that is already in a video programming distributor’s or provider’s library before it is shown on television with captions:

Such programming must be captioned within 45 days after the date it is shown on television with captions on or after Mar. 30, 2014 and before Mar. 30, 2015;Such programming must be captioned within 30 days after the date it is shown on television with captions on or after Mar. 30, 2015 and before Mar. 30, 2016; andSuch programming must be captioned within 15 days after the date it is shown on television with captions on or after Mar. 30, 2016. The R&O also implemented CVAA § 203, which required the FCC to adopt rules for “apparatus designed to receive or play back video programming transmitted simultaneously with sound…and us[ing] a picture screen of any size” to be “equipped with closed caption decoder circuitry or capability designed to display closed-captioned video programming.” Though established by the R&O itself rather than its appearance in the Federal Register, it should be noted that covered apparatus must comply with the new rules by Jan. 1, 2014, though the FCC expects manufacturers to take accessibility into consideration as early as possible in the design process for new and existing devices.

The Federal Register does not dictate the effective date of certain of the rules that include information requirements and thus, are subject to approval by the Office of Management and Budget, such as the rules governing undue burden exemptions and complaints. For a detailed explanation of all aspects of the IP video closed captioning rules, please see our advisory on the R&O here. And for more information about these new rules please contact any of the Communications attorneys at DWT.

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