FCC Issues Two Orders on Closed Captioning Complaint Procedures
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has issued two orders regarding closed captioning complaint procedures and requirements adopted in November 2008, which we discussed in our advisory issued at that time.
One order amends the new rule requiring video programming distributors (VPDs) to file contact information for the VPD, for posting on the FCC Web site, that viewers can use to raise immediate captioning concerns and to lodge written captioning complaints. The amendment will allow filing the contact information via an electronic FCC webform, thus establishing a third option for submitting the information (in addition to the e-mail and paper filing options the rule already allowed).
The other order temporarily stays the effective date of the rule that would require VPDs to forward closed captioning complaints to third parties (in certain circumstances), on grounds the Commission views the requirement as possibly in conflict with provisions in the Communications Act barring the disclosure of personally identifiable information without first obtaining subscriber consent.
Neither of the rules has yet taken effect in that, though approved by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), they were awaiting FCC publication of a Federal Register notice with an effective date, which will be forthcoming.
With respect to the contact information requirement, the rule originally required VPDs to file with the Chief of the Disability Rights Office, Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau, or to send an e-mail to CLOSEDCAPTIONING_POC@fcc.gov, within 30 days of Federal Register publication of the rule’s effective date. Thereafter, the rule requires VPDs to promptly notify the FCC each time there is a change in any of the required contact information, and in any event within 10 business days of such change.
While VPDs may use—once the effective date for the rule as revised is announced—any of the three filing methods, the Commission is encouraging submission of the information through the online, self-service webform.
The Commission added the webform option in anticipation of the large number of submissions and volume of information it expects to receive. To submit contact information in this manner, VPDs must enter it in specific fields and, once submitted, the information will be available for online searching by the public. All information entered by VPDs will be searchable but secure; only authorized persons with access to a VPD’s FRN and password may enter data or make changes to data previously entered.
We anticipate that the new and revised closed captioning rules adopted last November will be published in the Federal Register soon. The changes to subpart (g)—other than (g)(3), which is stayed—pertaining to complaint procedures, will be effective immediately upon publication in Federal Register. The changes to 79.1(i), pertaining to contact information, will become effective 30 days from publication.