Wrap-Up on FCC Forum on OTT Closed Captioning

December 8, 2021 BY REBECCA KLEIN

On December 2, 2021, the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Media Bureau and Governmental Affairs Bureau held the “Video Programming Accessibility Forum – Online Closed Captioning” to explore ways to improve the accessibility of over-the-top (OTT) content.


FCC Rules for Closed Captioning of Online Video: Are You Compliant?


OTT Content
OTT content is the audio, video, and other media content delivered over the Internet, without the involvement of a multiple-system operator in the control or distribution of the content.

“Consumers currently access video programming from providers that range from traditional entities, such as broadcasters and multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs), to a growing number of online streaming service providers, including those that operate social media platforms,” FCC bureaus wrote in a public announcement for the Forum.

In April of 2021, the FCC sought input on video accessibility rules, given that some of the requirements may have been “overtaken by new technologies.” Disability rights advocates argue that the current rules fail to capture OTT video. The Forum was an opportunity to explore current and prospective best practices and efforts that could enhance the availability of closed captioning online and the accessibility of OTT content.

The Forum featured keynote remarks by Senator Ed Markey, who authored the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA), and included two panels. The first panel focused on the technical and business issues surrounding closed captioning, and the second panel focused on the role the FCC can play moving forward in online closed captioning.

The Forum’s First Panel

The first panel, moderated by Elliot Greenwald, Deputy Chief of the Disability Rights office at the FCC, featured Heather Dowdy, Director of Accessibility at Netflix, KR Liu, Head of Brand Accessibility at Google, Daniel Kocmarek, GM – Global Video Supply Chain and Content Operations at Amazon’s Prime Video, Dr. Christian Vogler, Director of the Technology Access Program at Gallaudet University, and Jim Denney, Chief Product Officer at NBCUniversal.

Panelists spoke on various topics, including challenges that consumers face in accessing and viewing online closed captioning, best practices to ensure that captions can be easily viewed on different devices and apps, and best practices for captioning consumer-generated videos, such as those on YouTube and social media platforms.

 Are your online videos FCC compliant? Learn more in our guide ➡️ 

The Forum’s Second Panel

The second panel, moderated by Diana Sokolow, Attorney and Adviser for the FCC’s Media Bureau, featured Zainab Alkebsi, Policy Counsel for the National Association for the Deaf, Jacqueline Clary, VP and Associate Counsel at the NCTA, Blake Reid, Professor at the University of Colorado Law School, and Larry Walke, Associate General Counsel at the National Association of Broadcasters.

Panelists discussed topics such as what authority the FCC possesses regarding captioning of online programming outside of content that has aired on television, how the FCC can support consumers’ access to captioning of online programming that is not also shown on television, whether the FCC should expand the captioning requirements for video clips, and the future of regulation for the availability of online closed captioning.

FCC Rules for Closed Captioning of Online Video: Are You Compliant? Read the guide.

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