A Fort Myers, Florida, television licensee has entered into a consent decree with the FCC, terminating the Enforcement Bureau's investigation into whether the station violated the commission's rules by failing to make accessible to persons with hearing disabilities emergency information that it provided aurally in its programming during 2004's Hurricane Charley. As part of the settlement, the licensee agreed to pay to the U.S. Treasury $16,000 and to abide by a specific Emergency Visual Presentation Policy (the Policy).
The Policy calls for closed captioning of regularly scheduled local newscasts and emergency information, including emergency information broadcast outside a regularly scheduled newscast (with some flexibility should captioning services not be immediately available). The station must distribute a copy of the Policy to newsroom and master control employees at least every six months, incorporate the Policy into its news employee training sessions and review the Policy with key staff at the start of hurricane season each year. In addition, the station will consult yearly with organizations representing deaf and hard-of-hearing persons about how it is meeting the needs of hearing-impaired viewers. Finally, the phones of the general manager, news director, program production manager and executive producers must have speed dialing capability and the number of the station's captioning service must be pre-programmed.