Closed Captions Required for Video Content Uploaded to iTunes Store

November 20, 2018 BY ELISA LEWIS
Updated: June 16, 2022

As of July 1, 2015, Apple has strictly enforced that all video content uploaded to the US iTunes store be removed if it doesn’t include closed captioning. Apple stayed true to its word and has removed such content from iTunes, including some from Hollywood media companies. The move demonstrated a strict commitment to FCC compliance for closed captioning, which extends to films and television shows distributed online.

The deadline coincided with the release of the iOS 8.4.

FCC & CVAA Closed Captioning Rules

The US iTunes store is subject to FCC regulation for digital media distribution. The FCC has clear closed captioning rules for films and television that demand comprehensive, accurate, timely, and well-placed captions for video broadcasting.

The 21st Century Communications & Video Accessibility Act (CVAA) extended the FCC’s jurisdiction into online video as well.

The CVAA stipulates that all video content that previously aired on US television with captions must be distributed online with captions. Several deadlines for CVAA closed captioning compliance have come and gone, so uncaptioned video on iTunes is a legal liability for Apple.

Content creators must provide closed captions for their videos, but the distributor is also responsible for serving only FCC-compliant content in US digital markets.

Searching for movies and TV shows in iTunes store with a closed caption filter

Closed Captioned Video on iTunes

You can find iTunes video content with closed captions by browsing and looking for the “CC” symbol under the title, or by searching for movies and TV shows with a closed caption filter.

Adding Closed Captions to iTunes Video

If you have uncaptioned video on iTunes, you’ll want to remedy that as soon as possible or else risk getting it removed from the US store. Make sure to hire an FCC compliant closed captioning company that can deliver high-quality, accurate captions quickly.

If your movie or TV show is not in English or Spanish, closed captions for the spoken language are not required. However, you must include subtitles for the deaf and hard of hear (SDH).

iTunes requires that any new bonus video content, like trailers, previews, or clips, include closed captions if they’re uploaded after this deadline.

Video Clip Captioning

Video creators and distributors are required to caption video clips of full-length shows and films that aired on US television with captions since the CVAA deadline.

iTunes’ stipulated that media companies add captions to bonus video content like trailers, previews, or clips, which are subject to CVAA regulation as of January 1, 2016.

3Play Media offers an automated video clip captioning solution that generates captions for a clip of content that has already been captioned. This spares you the time, hassle, and cost of submitting clips for transcription from scratch when you’ve already got captions for the source video.


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This post was originally published by Emily Griffin on June 26, 2015 with the title, “iTunes to Remove Movies & TV Shows from US Store Unless They Have Closed Captions”, and has since been updated. 


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