Yesterday, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) released a Public Notice (“Notice”) announcing that the Office of Management and Budget (“OMB”) has given its approval to the remaining rules regarding the closed captioning of IP-delivered programming that 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.) The OMB’s approval means that as of August 6, 2012, all rules are in effect. The FCC previously announced that the rules not requiring OMB approval went into effect April 30, 2012 (See our Client Advisory dated March 30, 2012).

As a result of the OMB’s approval, the following provisions are now in effect:

  • Video Programming Owners (“VPOs”) must 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.
  • VPOs must issue to VPDs/VPPs good faith certifications of compliance with the IP closed captioning rules.
  • VPDs/VPPs must make a contact person available for IP closed captioning complaints.
  • VPDs/VPPs and VPOs may now file petitions for exemptions from the rules.
  • Public complaints regarding potential IP closed captioning violations may be filed. However, as discussed below, no IP-delivered programming need be captioned before September 30, 2012, so a complaint will not actually be valid until after September 30.
  • The rules governing petitions for exemptions by device manufacturers for devices that have a picture screen of less than 13 inches.

As a reminder, the following is the timeline for when IP-delivered programming must be captioned. Programming delivered via IP must only be captioned if it aired on television on or after April 30, 2012.

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Prerecorded programming that undergoes specialized editing for Internet distribution must be captioned by September 30, 2013.

In addition, the rules 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.