NAB Seeks Extension on Closed Captioning

Nov 16, 2005  •  Post A Comment

The National Association of Broadcasters has asked the Federal Communications Commission to extend to Dec. 16 the deadline for comments on proposed changes in closed-captioning rules for video programming. The current deadline is Nov. 25.

The NAB’s filing Tuesday said it is concerned that some of the proposed regulations will stifle the development of new and less expensive captioning technology and put “unreasonable burdens and unachievable goals on broadcasters, particularly on medium and small-market television stations who are struggling with declining news revenues and costs associated with converting to digital television. Given the realities broadcasters face, the proposed regulations are likely to have counterproductive consequences.”

Under a timetable set by the FCC, per the 1996 Telecommunications Act, TV stations in the Top 25 markets must, by Jan. 1, be captioning all programming shown between 6 a.m. and 2 a.m. Real-time captioning is required for news and other live programming.

The less expensive, less extensive and less reliable Electronic Newsroom Technique, which feeds TelePrompTer and other scripted material into captioning encoders, is prohibited in the Top 25 markets.

One of the proposed rules changes would extend the prohibition of ENT captioning to smaller markets.

The NAB filing argues that the cost of real-time captioning for news is “impracticable beyond the Top 25 markets.”

The NAB also opposed FCC-imposed quality standards, monitoring and compliance reporting requirements.

“Faced with the task of delivering ‘perfect’ captioning or [risking] significant forfeitures, local stations may err on the side of caution and refrain from airing live, local programming, including breaking news and emergency weather information,” the NAB argues.