Final CVAA Captioning Requirement for Live & Near-Live TV Goes into Effect

Updated: June 3, 2019

A close up of a TV video camera recording a live TV talk show which is blurred in the distant background

July 1st, 2017 was the final deadline of the FCC’s 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA) captioning requirement timeline for broadcast television in the US.

This deadline, the last of several that have been incrementally phased in since 2012, requires that video clips and montages must have captions within 12 and 8 hours of airing on TV, respectively.

In other words, after a clip or montage airs on TV there will be an 8 or 12 hour delay between when captions are required on those recordings that end up online.

This requirement is meant to make TV clips and montages accessible (as quickly as possible) to viewers who are deaf, hard of hearing, and others who benefit from closed captions when those recordings end up online. It is worth nothing that these clips and montages can be still available for playback without captions on websites and streaming services before the 8 or 12 hour deadline has passed.

What are Live and Near-Live Video Clips and Montages?

To help understand what kind of content is implicated, let’s define some terms:

  • Live: Programs that air “substantially simultaneously” with their performance. A lot of live TV, like live sports matches and news programs, will have a delay that lasts a few seconds.
  • Near Live: Programs that air within 24 hours of their performance. This includes late night talk shows with are typically recorded 6-12 hours before airing.
  • Video Clips: Often referred to as “direct lift”, these are short segments on previously recorded programming.
  • Video Montages: These combine multiple clips from single or multiple previously recorded programs that are stitched together to form one clip.

Examples of Implicated Video Content

Many TV programs will share clips or montages of video programming that just aired on TV.

For example, after-the-game sports talk shows will often share clips and montages of exciting plays that occurred just minutes or hours before. Or, sometimes clips and montages will air a couple hours before late night talk shows to “tease” or give a preview of the full-length program.

A Brief History of the CVAA

Timeline displaying key historic and future CVAA milestones: 2010 - CVAA passes. September, 2012 - Captions required for unedited video. March, 2013 - Captions required for live video. June, 2013 - FCC defers decision on captions for video clips. September, 2013 - Captions required for edited video. March, 2014 - Captions required for archived video within 45 days. March, 2015 - Captions required for archived video within 30 days. March, 2016 - Captions required for archived video within 15 days. January 1 2017 - FCC requires captions for montages. July 1 2017- FCC requires captions for live and near-live clips within 12 hours.

The CVAA was signed by President Obama and passed into law in 2010.

The first deadline to pass was in September 2012 when captions became required for pre-recorded, unedited TV programs (no part of it was edited or removed) once they were published online.

In March of 2013, captions were required for live and near-live programs once published online, and in September of that year the same was applied to all edited and unedited programs. The rest of the above deadlines were phased in gradually to ease the burden on TV programmers and distributors.

To learn about all the CVAA captioning requirements for broadcast television, download our free white paper:


CVAA Brief: Online Video Captioning Requirements and Deadlines


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