Captioning Requirements for Programming Published Before 1998 Commence This Quarter

The FCC’s captioning requirements for English-language pre-rule video programming (i.e., video programming that was first published or exhibited before Jan. 1, 1998) commence this quarter. As provided in the regulations, “[a]fter January 1, 2003, 30% of the programming distributor’s pre-rule nonexempt video programming being distributed and exhibited on each channel, during each calendar quarter, must be provided with closed captioning.” The FCC’s closed captioning benchmark applies to both analog pre-rule video programming and digital pre-rule video programming. Digital pre-rule programming is video programming prepared or formatted for display on digital television receivers that was first published or exhibited before July 1, 2002.1 The next benchmark for pre-rule programming is Jan. 1, 2008, at which time 75 percent of all pre-rule nonexempt programming must be captioned.

As a further reminder, with regard to new nonexempt video programming (analog and digital), the FCC’s rules currently require that at least 900 hours of new nonexempt video programming be closed captioned on each channel, each calendar quarter. This amount will increase to 1,350 hours as of Jan. 1, 2004. Analog new programming is video programming that was first published or exhibited on or after Jan. 1, 1998. Digital new programming is video programming prepared or formatted for display on digital television receivers first published or exhibited on or after July 1, 2002.

Please contact us if you would like additional information concerning the FCC’s closed captioning requirements.

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1 The test for determining whether programming is prepared or formatted for display on digital television receivers is not entirely clear, however it is generally understood to mean that program networks transmitting in HDTV should comply with the requirements as soon as HDTV sets are cable ready. Some program networks already have begun to place 708 formatted captioning in their standard definition feeds in anticipation of the changeover.