Reminder: Enhanced Captioning Required for New IP Video Apps and Newly Manufactured Video Programming Equipment Starting Jan. 1, 2014
Starting Jan. 1, 2014, IP video applications, plug-ins and devices newly provided or upgraded by video programmer distributors (VPDs) must implement the enhanced captioning technical capabilities set forth in FCC rule 79.103(c) for presentation, character color, opacity, size, font and edge attributes, background color and opacity, window color, preview and setting retention. This includes applications that a VPD instructs its subscribers to download. Full or partial exemptions from this requirement are available to video programming owners and providers upon petition to, and a finding by, the FCC that compliance with the requirements would be economically burdensome. Applications, plug-ins and devices that implement Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers Time Text (SMPTE-TT) format with respect to the enhanced technical capabilities shall be deemed to be in compliance.
By this same date, any equipment that is designed to receive or play back video programming (IP, QAM or otherwise) in conjunction with a picture screen of 13 inches or larger (measured diagonally), including set top boxes, PCs, smartphones and tablets, manufactured after Jan. 1, 2014, must implement the same enhanced captioning functionality requirements, if doing so is technically feasible. The FCC has instructed that the captioning requirement should not be considered infeasible simply due to cost or necessary physical modifications; however, technical and physical limitations of the equipment will be taken into consideration. Video programming equipment used in conjunction with screens of less than 13 inches in size must be capable of displaying closed captions, if doing so is technically feasible as well as achievable with reasonable effort or expense. Regardless of screen size, covered equipment includes the hardware as well as the software installed by the manufacturer before the equipment is sold, or that the manufacturer requires the consumer to install after the equipment is purchased.
These rules were adopted by the FCC pursuant to authority provided by the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 (CVAA) which put in place new mandates to give consumers access to closed captions through various other types of video devices, including many devices that are not subject to a 13-inch limitation. The FCC had previously extended the date by which VPD-provided IP video programming applications and plug-ins had to comply with the enhanced captioning user configuration and formatting requirements.