FCC unveils captioning rules

WASHINGTON – It will be another eight to 10 years before every program on television is required to carry closed captions for the hearing impaired, according to a proposal made by the FCC Thursday.

The FCC also reached a tentative conclusion to make TV stations and cable systems responsible for captioning programs. Some studios had been concerned that the FCC would require producers to close caption programs.

Under the proposal, the captioning requirement for new programming would be phased in gradually over the next eight or 10 years. The FCC asked for public comment on both an eight-year and 10-year deadline for captioning all programs.

Broadcasters gave the FCC’s proposal a thumbs up. “We’re pleased the FCC has recognized that most broadcast network programming is already closed captioned, and that the commission offers a reasonable transition period for that programming which is not,” said National Assn. of Broadcasters prexy Eddie Fritts.

The FCC was ordered to write rules for captioning under the Telecommunication Act of 1996. The law requires the FCC to approve the new captioning rule by Aug. 8.

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