As our colleague Brian Hurh wrote today on our sister blog, www.broadbandlawadvisor.com, the Video Programming Accessibility Advisory Committee has released its Report to the FCC on the closed captioning of IP-video programming as required by the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act passed last October. A copy of the report released today is available here. As we explained earlier here, the Accessibility Act directed the Commission to enact rules that would require that once a television program is published or exhibited on television with closed captions, any subsequent distribution of that programming on the Internet must include closed captions.
The Accessibility Act requires that the FCC revise its closed captioning rules within 6 months of the Committee's report, thus, new FCC closed captioning rules must be in place no later than January 13, 2012. (The report is dated July 13, 2011, though it appears to have been released July 11.) The report proposes the following compliance schedule based on the date the FCC's revised rules are published in the Federal Register:
- Within 6 months: programming that has been prerecorded and unedited for Internet distribution;
- Within 12 months: live and near-live programming
- Within 18 months: programming that has been prerecorded and substantially edited for Internet distribution.
In addition, the report sets forth the Committee's recommendations for performance objectives, technical requirements, and technical capabilities and procedures related to closed captioning on the Internet. The report also contains a discussion on new technological developments such as emerging protocols and other innovations that may affect the delivery of Internet closed captioning in the future.
While today's Report makes certain recommendations, it is up to the Commission to now act expeditiously in order to commence a rule making proceeding, solicit comments, and actually promulgate new rules regarding captioning of video over IP. The Advisory Committee's report is an important (and necessary) step towards captioning rules for certain types of Internet video, and we will continue to follow the Commission's actions in this area.