Right now, companies are required to provide captions for full online videos that first aired on TV. But if those videos are cut up, caption readers are often out of luck, clips and montages don’t require captions, even if the full shows aired with them. The FCC just changed that. The agency already has the authority to force TV broadcasters to add online captions, and created some rules for captioning videos in 2012. The FCC will now expand those rules: starting in 2016, companies will need to add captions to all clips. In 2017, they’ll need to add captions to video montages and videos of TV that aired live. Many companies voluntarily provide captions for these videos, but it’s not a requirement. With TV content increasingly moving to digital the FCC wants to cover as much ground as it can, although the rules won’t apply to videos uploaded to third-party sites or apps. The FCC commissioners agreed unanimously on the rules.
Regulators are establishing new rules requiring closed captions for online video clips. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted unanimously Friday to approve the rules from Chairman Tom Wheeler. Wheeler — signing along in American Sign Language — repeated a pledge he made at another closed captioning vote earlier this year. “This is just the beginning in dealing with our responsibility to make sure that individuals with special needs are in the front of the technology train, not the back of the technology train,” he said. Friday’s vote sets requirements for online video clips that have aired on television with closed captions, mimicking current requirements for full-length online videos that originally were broadcast with captions on television. The new requirements apply to video distributors like broadcasters and cable and satellite companies. Under the 2010 Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act, the FCC has the authority to require closed captions for online videos. In 2012, the agency created rules under that law that requires closed captions on full-length online videos that aired with captions on television. The rules approved Friday set staggered deadlines between 2016 and 2017 for clips taken straight from television, montages containing multiple clips and clips of live and near-live programming, like sports and news. Tech and video companies pointed to their voluntary work on this issue and expressed concerns about how quickly they would have to put up video clips with captions and how accurate the captions would have to be, especially with content like sports or breaking news.