The Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA) requires programs shown on television with captions and later online to also be captioned. In its Internet-Protocol (IP) Closed Captioning rules, the FCC created separate deadlines new programming, which is posted online after the rules are in effect, and archival programming, which is programming posted online before the rules going in effect but shown or re-aired later on television.
As of September 30, 2013, 100% of new video programming shown on television with captions must have captions when shown online.
However, archival programming must be captioned following the deadlines:
- The programming must be captioned within 45 days after the date it is shown on television with captions on or after March 30, 2014;
- The programming must be captioned within 30 days after the date it is shown on television with captions on or after March 30, 2015;
- Such programming must be captioned within 15 days after the date it is shown on television with captions on or after March 30, 2016.
Online Video Clips
The FCC reversed an earlier decision to exempt video clips from coverage under the IP Closed Captioning rules. Online video clips taken from programs shown on television with captions, such as news programs, and shown online such as in 30 second or 1 minute long segments will have to be closed captioned. Straight-lift clips, which contain a single excerpt of a captioned television program with the same video and audio that was presented on television must be captioned after January 1, 2016.
The CVAA also requires playback devices of video programming to support captions. After all, what good are IP Closed Captioning rules if one’s laptop or tablet does not support the captions. The rules require that covered “apparatus” (including computers, smart phones, tablets, DVD and Blu-ray players, and any physical device capable of receiving or playing back video programming simultaneously with sound) sold or manufactured in the United States must have closed captioning capability as of January 1, 2014.
Programming Not Yet Shown on Television
The CVAA unfortunately does not cover programming that has yet to be shown on television such as new release movies available for streaming or online only programming. However, in 2011 the NAD sued Netflix, the largest online programming provider, under Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) for not providing equal access to most of its “Watch Instantly” movies and television programs. Netflix argued that online only businesses are not covered by the ADA and requested dismissal of our suit. In 2012, the Federal District Court in Massachusetts disagreed and in a historic ruling, ruled that online only businesses are covered by Title III of the ADA. Soon after, Netflix agreed to caption 100% of its streaming content by September 30, 2014.
In 2013, Apple similarly agreed to caption or subtitle every movie and TV episode in its iTunes catalog by June 2015.