Close Up Of A Woman Watching Television

What’s New in Captioning: New FCC Requirements Worth Knowing

Effective July 1, 2017, clips of all live or near-live programming on TV – such as concerts, sporting events, and news conferences – must be captioned when delivered via Internet Protocol. This is important news for the over 50 million Americans who report hearing loss, as well as those who rely on video captions while on the gym’s treadmill!

What does this mean for captioners? Well, the fabulous news is that the job outlook for highly skilled transcribers and captioners has never been more robust. Only humans have the capability to manage both real-time speed and quality control to meet the demands of the new regulations.

Specifically, the expanded FCC mandate which previously declared that almost all television programs are required to be closed captioned, now applies to the widely accessed internet. According to the rule, live programming must be captioned within 12 hours of recording, and near-live within eight hours, unlike direct clips or montages, which must be captioned before distribution.

The real-time nature of live and near-live broadcasts warrant something more accurate than automatic speech recognition (ASR) software, which those in the industry understand is severely lacking in quality. And since the rules state that Internet Protocol captions must be of the same high quality as television broadcasts, the difference in ASR output violates the FCC standards.

From the FCC: “Accuracy: The closed captioning must match the program audio, including any slang, and contain non-verbal information such as speaker identification, descriptions of music, sound effects, the attitudes and emotions of the speakers, and audience reaction. The closed captions must be free of spelling and grammatical errors, and use appropriate punctuation and capitalization, correct tense, and proper singular or plural forms.”

Of course, there will be a little leeway between expectations and the results, as it is extremely difficult to caption live programming perfectly and without error.

In order to keep broadcasts in compliance, it is crucial to understand the role that experienced captioners will have. Adhering to new practices always takes a little time and a lot of stress, but a qualified staff and effective workflows to accommodate the live captioning mandate will ensure the content is available to everyone.

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