Internet consumers must be given experiences that are equal to, if not better than, the experiences provided when content was originally aired on television, is the new mandate included in the July 13 report by FCC’s Video Programming Accessibility Advisory Committee on the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010.
So next January, advanced captioning for live and near-live programming must be online. By next July, all prerecorded programming “substantially edited” for the Internet must be captioned. Carriers of Internet media must support closed-captioning and end-user display in terms of language, character color, opacity, size, edge, background and font.
“User settings are new to players which support Internet-delivered video, and will require time and effort to implement,” the Video Programming Accessibility Advisory Committee report said.
The new rules allow for Internet delivery of the single standard interchange format now used for digital television. Distributors can transcode for various playout options — such as proprietary or browser-based players — as long as the captioning characteristics are maintained.
Media giants Time-Warner, CNN and Netflix have all been recently sued in City, State and Federal Courts for violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by not providing the deaf with equal access or closed captions to “watch instantly” digital video, archived news and programming.
“The lack of captioned videos means that millions of people with hearing loss will continue to be denied equal access to video news content on CNN.com,” Anna Levine, the plaintiffs” attorney in the suit, said.
The Netflix lawsuit also states: “While streaming (video) provides more access to entertainment to the general public, it threatens to be yet another barrier to people who are deaf and hard of hearing.”
Consequences – legal costs, lost audiences, brand damage – for non-compliance seem serious now, and look like they are just getting started.
dotSUB’s General Overview: U.S. Accessibility Regulations for Online Video Captions
Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 (October, 2010): Signed by President Barack Obama
Video Programming Accessibility Advisory Committee (July 2011): First Report on Closed Captioning of Video Programming Delivered Using Internet Protocol
Broadcast Engineering.com (July 2011): FCC sets six-month deadline for Internet closed captioning
KTVU.com (June 2011): CNN Being Sued For Lack Of Closed-Captioning Online
Paid Content (June 2011): Deaf Group Sues Netflix Over Lack Of Captions On Instant Viewing
National Association of the Deaf (NAD)