Churches, Religious Broadcasters Face Closed Captioning Laws
Until recently, churches and religious broadcasters have been exempt from closed captioning requirements that would normally apply to TV shows, recorded sermons and church services, educational videos, and other video or audio programming. Religious organizations were sheltered by a blanket FCC exemption granted in 2006 after the Anglers for Christ Ministries successfully argued that closed captioning was an undue economic hardship.
On October 20, 2011 the FCC’s Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau overturned that decision, requiring religious organizations to comply with the same accessibility laws as other media publishers. Churches can still individually apply for an exemption if they can prove that they can’t afford closed captioning.
The Bureau’s rescindment was instigated by a coalition of advocacy groups for the deaf and hard of hearing. The coalition argued that the order “improperly and unilaterally established a new class of exempt programming.”
While advocates for the deaf are pleased that more programming will become accessible, some religious broadcasters are concerned that this move could shut down some programming because of the additional costs involved with captioning.