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FCC Issues Public Notice Concerning Closed Captioning Reporting Procedures

In a Public Notice released this week, the FCC’s Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau provided details regarding the procedures by which video programming distributors (including broadcasters and MVPDs) must report video programmers who refuse to provide widely available closed captioning quality certifications.

The procedures described in the Public Notice are an outgrowth of the closed captioning quality rules, which require distributors to exercise best efforts to obtain certifications from each programmer stating that the programmer either (a) complies with the FCC’s new caption quality standards, (b) has adopted and follows the Video Programmer Best Practices set forth in the FCC’s rules, or (c) is exempt from the closed captioning rules (with reference to the specific exemption relied upon).  The rules permit distributors to meet their best efforts obligations by locating such certifications on programmers’ websites or other widely available locations.

If a distributor is unable to locate a programmer’s certification on the programmer’s website or other widely available location, the distributor must inform the programmer in writing that it must make its certification widely available within 30 days after receiving the written request.  If the programmer does not comply, the distributor is obligated to report the programmer to the FCC, which will be building a list of non-certifying programmers.

The Public Notice describes the procedures that distributors must follow to report non-certifying video programmers pursuant to these rules.  Importantly, the Public Notice specifies that such reports must be submitted either (a) within 40 days after the distributor provides written notice to the programmer or (b) by June 4, 2015, whichever is later.  The Public Notice also clarifies that it is the video programmer—and not, for example, the programmer’s captioning vendor—that must provide the required certification.

© 2020 Covington & Burling LLPNational Law Review, Volume V, Number 128

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