New FCC closed-captioning guidelines go into effect

Photo of a man with a puzzled look on his face and his hand to his ear.

The first national online closed-captioning regulations became effective September 30.

man expressive portrait on isolated white background
Why Not Captions?

The regulations, from the Federal Communication Communication, require all full-length movies and television to contain closed captioning when viewed online, according to an FCC guidance document.

The regulations are required under the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act, signed into law President Obama in October 2010.

Some activists for people who are deaf or hard of hearing, while acknowledging that the regulations are a step forward, remain concerned that the regulations have too many loopholes.

“Unfortunately, the CVAA does not cover all video-programming content on the Internet,” said Andrew Phillips, an attorney with the National Association of the Deaf, in a Washington Times article.

The regulations do not pertain to video clips and non full-length content, including many news broadcasts. They also do not pertain to online-only content, such as many of the videos on Netflix and Hulu.

By March 30, 2013, “live and near-live video programming” must include closed captioning. Pre-recorded video programming that is “substantially edited for the Internet” must contain closed captioning by September 30, 2013.