Yesterday the FCC's Consumer and Government Affairs Bureau released a Public Notice seeking comments to refresh the record on closed captioning that was last addressed in the Commission's 2005 and 2008 Closed Captioning NPRMs. As recognized by the Commission, much has happened since those proceedings, both technologically and regulatory. As directed by the recently enacted 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (which we blogged about earlier here, and discussed in DWT's Advisory here), the FCC's rules must be revised to extend closed captioning to the Internet within 6 months of the Advisory Committee's report on closed captioning, which must be released by October 2011. As we noted earlier, the Advisory Committee must be formed by December 8, and hold its first meeting by April 2011.

The revised closed captioning rules will necessarily require a new closed captioning rulemaking proceeding, and presumably, the Commission is gathering information now to determine what the forthcoming rulemaking proceeding will look like. Some of the issues that the Commission seeks to refresh include:

  • Whether to establish quality standards for non-technical aspects of closed captioning, including whether different quality standards should apply to live and pre-recorded programming;
  • The need for mechanisms and procedures over and above the "pass through" rule, and whether there should be a per violation forfeiture amount for non-compliance;
  • Whether the FCC should revise its rules to disallow the use of electronic newsroom technique for certain DMAs;
  • How the section 79.1(d)(12) exemption for channels producing revenues of less than $3 million should apply to digital mulitcast, specifically, the ramifications of treating each multicast stream as a separate channel for purposes of the exemption.  

Comments are due November 24. Reply comments are due December 9.