Netflix and the Entertainment Merchants Association: Standards for Captioning the Digital Distribution of TV and Film

April 18, 2014 BY LILY BOND
Updated: January 4, 2018

On Thursday, 3Play Media, Netflix, and EMA hosted a webinar discussing the best practices for captioning the digital distribution of TV and Film. The panelists were Dae Kim from Netflix, Sean Bersell from the Entertainment Merchants Association (EMA), and Josh Miller and Claudia Rocha from 3Play Media.

With so many legal updates to closed captioning laws over the past few months, it was important to have a forum about the new rules and standards. Each panelist’s specialty in the field of captioning added a new perspective, allowing viewers to gain a very holistic view of the process.


Best Practices for Closed Captioning, Straight from the Experts

To get everyone on the same page, Josh Miller began the webinar with a discussion of captioning terminology and different caption formats, then delved into the benefits of adding captions to your content. The majority of his presentation was spent on legal updates – and there were a lot of them! The most recent update – and one of the reasons this webinar was so timely – is that the latest deadline of the CVAA (21st Century Video Accessibility Act) was phased in on March 30th, which requires all content that aired on TV with captions must also be captioned within 45 days of going online. He also discussed the FCC’s recent declaratory ruling on caption quality, the FCC’s mandate on user control guidelines, recent ADA case law, and the FCC’s 13 exemptions for closed captioning.

Sean Bersell took over from Josh to discuss the best practices proposed by the EMA Closed Captions Working Group. He focused on caption certification and exceptions, and then dove into the standards established for caption formats and frame rates. For another angle on captioning practices, Claudia Rocha came in to explain the standards for transcription and captioning. She discussed the best practices involved in the actual act of transcribing content, including spelling, sound effects, grammar, and speaker identification, and then focused on caption standards, including length/duration, fonts, and placement. Dae Kim from Netflix gave a technical perspective on the best practices for file formats. He touched on the technical standards preferred for caption delivery, encoding, styling, and onscreen placement, agreeing with Claudia on the more aesthetic standards. He also talked about industry trends, including converging universal standards and how they are impacted by differences in European and American laws.

Following the session, the webinar was opened up to a hearty Q&A, allowing the panelists to discuss specifics in depth. We were thrilled with the turnout for the webinar and with the incredible forum that resulted. We’ll be putting up some more detailed posts soon delving into the topics covered, so keep an eye out for those.

Read the free report: 2017 State of Captioning.

The closed caption CC icon shown in the middle of a TV.