Today, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) released a Public Notice (“Notice”) announcing the effective date of the closed captioning rules for IP-delivered programming. The rules were adopted by the FCC in January in accordance with the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 (See our Client Advisory dated January 31, 2012 for a full summary of the rules.) As a result of the March 30, 2012 Federal Register publication, most of the rules will become effective April 30, 2012. Other rules will not go into effect until the Office of Management and Budget (“OMB”) issues its approval in accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act (“PRA”). The March 30, 2012 Federal Register publication date also has implications for several of the other requirements in the IP closed captioning rules.
OMB Approval Required: The Notice states that the following rules will not go into effect until the OMB has published its approval under the PRA in the Federal Register:
- The requirement that Video Programming Owners (“VPOs”) reach an agreement with Video Programming Distributors (“VPDs”) and Video Programming Providers (“VPPs”) on a mechanism to inform VPDs/VPPs on an ongoing basis about whether programming is subject to IP closed captioning rules. In addition, there will be no need for VPOs to issue to VPDs/VPPs good faith certifications of compliance with the IP closed captioning rules until after OMB approval.
- The requirement for VPDs/VPPs to make a contact person available for IP closed captioning complaints.
- The rules governing petitions for exemptions by VPDs/VPPs and VPOs, meaning that petitions for exemptions will not be accepted by the FCC until after OMB approval.
- The rules governing the registering of public complaints regarding potential IP closed captioning violations, meaning such complaints will not be accepted by the FCC until after OMB approval.
- The rules governing petitions for exemptions by device manufacturers for devices that have a picture screen of less than 13 inches.
Compliance Deadlines Linked to Date of Federal Register Publication: Several of the compliance dates for the new rules are tied to the March 30, 2012 Federal Register publication date as follows:
- Prerecorded programming that does not undergo special editing for Internet distribution (modifications to and/or removal of advertisements does not constitute such editing) must be captioned by September 30, 2012 (six months after Federal Register publication).
- Live programming (programming shown substantially simultaneously with its performance) and near-live programming (programming that is performed and recorded less than 24 hours prior to its being televised) must be captioned by March 30, 2013 (one year after Federal Register publication.
- Prerecorded programming that undergoes specialized editing for Internet distribution must be captioned by September 30, 2013 (18 months after Federal Register publication).
The rules also set out a compliance schedule for captioning IP-delivered programming that previously aired on television prior to the effective date of the rules that is shown again on television after the effective date. The FCC has built in a two year delay for the requirement that re-aired programming be captioned when IP-delivered. As a result, such programming must contain captions when IP-delivered pursuant to the following schedule:
- Programming that re-airs on or after March 30, 2014 and before March 30, 2015, must be captioned for IP-delivery within 45 days of the program re-airing on television.
- Programming that re-airs on or after March 30, 2015 and before March 30, 2016, must be captioned for IP-delivery within 30 days of the program re-airing on television.
- Programming that re-airs on or after March 30, 2016 must be captioned for IP-delivery within 15 days of the program airing on television.