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Policy

IP-Captioning Scorecard

1/23/2012 12:01 AM Eastern

The Federal Communications Commission has
released its rules for implementing captioning
of Internet-delivered TV shows per its congressional
deadline. The National Cable & Telecommunications
Association weighed in with its
wish list last fall. So, how did cable operators
represented by the association fare? Pretty well.
Here are some of the things the NCTA wanted,
or didn’t want, in the IP-captioning item:

NCTA: The rules should not apply to Internet-service
providers in their capacity of providing access to video
programming distributed by others. FCC: Agrees.

NCTA: Rules should only apply prospectively, as in
only to TV shows with captions that aired after the effective
date of the rules. FCC: Agrees.

NCTA: The FCC should exempt “clips” from the
requirement, and define clip as any “excerpt” from a
full-length program. FCC: The commission will exclude
clips, but also says that “substantially all” of a program
is the same as all of it and needs captions online. But
the FCC left itself some wiggle room, saying it reserved
the right down the line to interpret Congress’ intent to
mean including clips in the captioning mandate.

NCTA: Rules should only cover programming exhibited
in the U.S. FCC: Agrees.

NCTA: The FCC should not establish a complaint
procedure initially and, if it does, it should set a deadline
for filing complaints. FCC: The item establishes a
complaint procedure but sets a 60-day deadline.

NCTA: The FCC should adopt a broad definition of a
de minimis violation — one that will not draw a sanction.
FCC: It will not treat de minimis failure to comply
with the rules as a violation and will not adopt specific
criteria for what constitutes de minimis.

NCTA: The FCC should not establish a fine. FCC:
The commission agreed with NCTA here, too. “The
record does not support either the $10,000 minimum
forfeiture level proposed by the consumer groups or establishing
a base forfeiture level for IP closed captioning
complaints at this time,” it said.

NCTA: It would be “unnecessary and counterproductive”
to regulate captioning quality. FCC: The
agency will definitely regulate captioning quality. It will
require video-programming owners “to provide videoprogramming
distributors and providers with captions of
at least the same quality as the television captions for
the same programming, and distributors and providers
to maintain the quality of the captions provided by the
video-programming owner.”

NCTA: The FCC should allow for exemptions, including
categorical exemptions, where appropriate. FCC:
It will categorically not offer categorical exemptions,
but will “craft procedures by which video programming
providers and owners may petition the Commission
for exemptions from the new requirements based on
economic burden.”

September