INTERNET CLOSED CAPTIONING REQUIREMENTS FOR “LIVE” AND “NEAR-LIVE” PROGRAMMING BEGIN MARCH 30, 2013

As we have previously reported, the FCC's rules require the closed captioning of certain video programming delivered via Internet Protocol (IP) if the programming is first aired on television with captions.  The rules have taken effect on a phased schedule of compliance beginning last fall:  As of September 30, 2012, stations have been required to display closed captioning forfull-lengthprogramming delivered via IP if that programming was first closed captioned on a broadcast platform on or after April 30, 2012.

Beginning March 30, 2013, the next phase of deadlines will take effect.  As of that date, all "live" and "near-live"full-length programming must be captioned when it is delivered via IP if it airs on television with closed captions. Stations should ensure that they have equipment and procedures in place to provide closed captioning for "live" or "near-live" full-length program that is streamed on their station websites or otherwise distributed via IP.

It is important to understand that, for purposes of these rules, "live programming" is defined as "video programming that is shownon televisionsubstantially simultaneously with its performance," and "near-live" is defined as "video programming that is performed and recorded less than 24 hours prior to the time that it was first airedon television."  Thus, the terms "live" and "near-live" refer to the programming as it airson television, and not only as it is distributed on the Internet.  So, for example, where a full-length program is streamed live on the web and simulcast on television with closed captions, it is subject to the March 30, 2013, deadline.  In addition, a full-length program that is aired live on television with closed captions (such as a newscast) and then, later, posted on the station's website as a full-length program, is also subject to the March 30, 2013, deadline because it aired live on television (even though it is not streaming live on the Internet).

Under the rules, a full-length program is defined as "video programming that appears on television and is distributed to end users, substantially in its entirety, via IP."  Video clips and outtakes from the programming that appeared on television are excluded from this definition.

The next phase of deadlines for the Internet closed captioning rules will take effect on September 30, 2013.  For more information about the Internet closed captioning rules, please refer to our Legal Reviews dated March 6, 2012, and June 19, 2012.

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