The role of television in American society is broad. From provision of news and entertainment, to the delivery of education, to broadcasting emergency information, television is a staple in the typical American household and in many public venues.
The passage of the Television Decoder Circuitry Act in 1990, and the mandate for closed captioning of television programming illustrate the growing trend toward equal access to television for deaf and hard of hearing viewers.
The NAD worked successfully with Congress and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to establish captioning rules for video programming distributors (television broadcasters and multichannel video program distributors, such as cable, satellite, and other subscription television services). Since 2006, all new, non-exempt, English-language television programming must be closed captioned.
The NAD continues to advocate for the following:
- All pre-recorded television programming, including commercials, to be closed captioned 24 hours a day, seven days a week, regardless of program content.
- All live television programming, such as talk shows or news broadcasts, to be captioned by means of real-time captioning technology and services.
- Access to emergency broadcasts, including weather bulletins, through real-time captioning technology and services.
- The display of closed captions at all times on all televisions located in public places, such as waiting rooms, lounges, restaurants, and passenger terminals.
Recent NAD Action Highlights
- Continue to advocate for the FCC to issue rules in response to the petition filed in 2004 and Notice of Proposed Rulemaking comments submitted in 2005 to improve caption quality and to improve monitoring and enforcement of the closed captioning rules.
- The FCC issued an order changing the closed captioning rules to provide a more efficient process for consumers to report closed caption problems and to file complaints; implementation expected around June 2009.
- Opposed creation of new category of television programming exempt from the closed captioning rules and filed comments, oppositions, and recommendations in response to over 700 requests for exemption from the closed captioning rules.
- Worked with the FCC, National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), congressional staff, Digital Television (DTV) Coalition, and others to resolve concerns about the DTV transition (originally February 2009, now June 2009), the development of analog-to-digital converter boxes, and reports of current problems with DTV and HDTV closed captions. Participated in a DTV Summit to begin efforts to coordinate resolution of captioning issues related to DTV and HDTV.
- Launched DTV transition consumer education and outreach program and became an outreach resource for the CSD DTV Transition Help Center.
- Successfully advocated for FCC Consumer Advisory about the closed captioning features of various converter boxes, and FCC ruling to clarify how the closed captioning rules apply to the transition to DTV.
- Successfully advocated for the establishment of an FCC technical working group to resolve digital closed captioning issues. The first meeting was held on May 18, 2009.