New FCC Consumer Help Center Makes It Easy To File Complaints About Closed Captions
Updated: January 24, 2019
Last month, the Federal Communications Commission launched a new consumer complaint website, the Consumer Help Center. The revamped site aims to simplify and speed up dispute resolution between consumers, the FCC, and providers.
When consumers encounter video content that lacks closed captions — or whose closed captions don’t meet FCC quality standards — they can easily submit a complaint to the FCC via the new portal.
In addition to the sleek redesign, the upgrade offers five major
improvements over the old site.
1. Better UX
The new FCC Consumer Help Center site has a brighter, more modern look, with a mobile-friendly, responsive interface. The streamlined design eliminates distractions for a smoother user experience. It presents six different categories of complaints to choose from:
- Access for People with Disabilities
- Emergency Communications
There’s an easy-to-navigate knowledgebase of common issues, so you can browse for more information about a topic of interest. For example, the page on
Closed Captioning of Internet Video Programming explains, in plain English, what the rules are, how and to whom they apply, key deadlines for enforcement, and how to file a complaint. Pretty
2. 24/7 Access to Complaint Status
The new portal lets consumers track the status of a complaint they file with the FCC. They can check the status online at any time, so they’re not left wondering if they’re complaint is ever heard.
Delara Derakhashani, policy counsel for Consumers Union, touts the update, saying:
This is a one-stop shop for consumers, and it’s a real improvement over the old system where forms and information were spread out and hard to find. We’re pleased that more of this complaint data is going to be available to the public, which will help root out problems and raise the bar for companies.”
3. Better Data Analysis to Identify Trends
One very promising feature of the redesign revolves around data. The new system lets the FCC organize and analyze data on consumer complaints so they can monitor industry trends and address growing problems with appropriate policy.
For example, the #WithCaptions campaign, which rallies for consistent, accurate closed captions for online video, can channel their message directly to the FCC to influence policy decisions.
4. More Transparency
The new Consumer Help Center removes the mystery behind the complaint process, dedicating a whole page to explaining what happens to your complaints and what to expect in terms of response.
Another section of the site displays aggregated data about complaints, graphing statistic on where complaints originate from and what they’re about. While there is only two months’ worth of data shared to date, these stats will become more useful over time.
5. Faster Communication with Providers
The new help site has shortened the information relay between FCC and providers. Previously, the FCC submitted weekly reports of complaints to media providers. The new system allows them to submit daily, if not near-real-time complaints to relevant parties. Faster reporting means less time consumers
need to wait for problems to be corrected.
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