The FCC today issued a further Public Notice reminding all Video Programming Distributors (VPDs)-- including those who might otherwise be exempt from some elements of the closed captioning rules -- to register their contact information with the FCC. All VPDs, including television stations, should have already identified appropriate contact people within their organizations and filed their contact information with the FCC. Although that info was due to the FCC by March 22, 2010, today's Public Notice, available here, indicates that many folks still have not yet complied with the new rules. Accordingly, the FCC is seeking to increase compliance by reminding VPDs of this obligation and encouraging distributors to register their contact belatedly. All television stations and other VPDs should ensure that they have taken the necessary steps and registered their contact information with the FCC. While the FCC has exercised its discretion thus far and issued a reminder instead of simply cracking down and commencing enforcement proceedings, video programming distributors are now on notice. And the next actions by the Commission with regard to this new rule will undoubtedly be more aggressive and could possibly involve enforcement actions.

As we've discussed previously, a new FCC closed captioning rule recently went into effect that requires video programming distributors to establish: 1.) a contact person for handling immediate closed captioning concerns, and 2.) a contact person for receiving written captioning complaints of a general or non-time sensitive nature. In order to assist viewers and potentially facilitate the resolution of such captioning complaints, the rule requires that video programming distributors publicize the appropriate contact information and also provide the contact information to the Commission, which will maintain a database open to consumers. Thus, by March 22, 2010, all television stations and other distributors were to have designated a contact person, posted the necessary contact information on their web site (and in any phone directories the distributor may advertise in), and submitted the information to the FCC.

If stations failed to file that info by March 22nd, they should do so immediately. The best way for stations to file this information with the FCC is to visit the FCC's website and submit the information online. The Commission’s website contains a detailed web form with step-by-step instructions to walk applicants through the process. Alternatively, the contact information can be e-mailed directly to the FCC’s Disability Rights Office at: CLOSEDCAPTIONING_POC@fcc.gov .

Video programming distributors must keep their contact information current and update both their websites and the Commission’s database within 10 business days of any changes to the information. Further details about the contact information requirement and the revised FCC closed captioning complaint rules can be found in our earlier posting here.