Are Closed Captions Required for Cord Cutting Services? Yes & No…





Male hand holding TV remote control.In the past, the FCC only required closed captions for broadcasters. In 2012, the FCC extended these rules to content streaming online.

Now if a program aired on traditional TV with closed captions, streaming services must also offer it with closed captions with a few limitations. These new rules are meant to make streaming more accessible to those with physical disabilities.

There are a few exceptions to this rule. Content that was not aired on TV and created for the Internet are not required to have closed captions.

The FCC left protections for online videos like home movies and smaller creators creating content exclusively for platforms like YouTube but without the budget for a professional closed caption system.

Here is how the FCC describes the new rules:

  • The Internet closed captioning rules only apply if the video programming was shown on TV in the U.S. with captions.
  • “Full-length video programming” is video programming that is shown on TV and is distributed to end users, substantially in its entirety, through the Internet.
  • “Video clips” are excerpts of full-length video programming that are posted online. The rules require video programming distributors that show programming on TV to post captioned clips of their programming on their own websites or applications (“apps”). At this time, the video clips rules do not apply to third-party websites or apps.
  • Consumer-generated media (e.g., home videos) shown on the Internet are not required to be captioned, unless they were shown on TV with captions.
  • Movies shown on the Internet are not required to be captioned unless they have been previously shown on TV with captions.
  • Even if a program or a provider is exempt under the Commission’s rules, it may still have obligations under other federal laws to make its video programming accessible to individuals with disabilities.

So, cord cutting services are not always required to offer closed captions.

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