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Internet Relay Fraud, Captioning/Video Description
To: Consumer Contact List
From: Karen Peltz Strauss, RERC-TA
Re: Consumer Contact List - Internet Relay Fraud, Inquiry on Captioning/Video Description Issues
Date: June 19, 2004

There are two very important documents that were released by the FCC toward the latter part of this week. If you are interested in relay issues or captioning, read on . . .

1. The FCC has released a public notice on Internet relay fraud, reminding businesses of the purpose of relay services, informing them of ways to deal with such fraud, and informing them of the fact that they cannot block calls from relay users (i.e. people with speech or hearing disabilities only) when taking calls from the general public. Blocking such calls is a violation of the ADA. The public notice is referenced below.

Contact: Dana Jackson at (202) 418-2247, email:, TTY: (202) 418-7898

2. Captioning and video description inquires. The FCC is conducting its annual assessment of the status of competition in the video programming (television) markets. This year, as part of that assessment, the FCC is seeking information from consumers on the effectiveness of captioning (its accuracy, costs, quantity, etc). and the quantity of video description now being provided. Following the URL links below are the relevant passages from this docket. Comments are due on July 23, 2004 and reply comments are due on August 25, 2004.

ANNUAL ASSESSMENT OF THE STATUS OF COMPETITION IN THE MARKET FOR THE DELIVERY OF VIDEO PROGRAMMING. Issued Notice of Inquiry soliciting data and information on the status of competition in the market for the delivery of video programming for the eleventh annual report ("2004 Report"). (Dkt No. 04-227). Action by: the Commission. Comments Due: 07/23/2004. Reply Comments Due: 08/25/2004. Adopted: 06/10/2004 by NOI. (FCC No. 04-136). MB

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The questions on captioning are found at paragraph 23 of the document and read as follows:

23. Access to Programming by Persons with Disabilities: We further request information regarding the accessibility of closed captioning and video description to persons with disabilities. Under the Commission's rules, video programming distributors are currently required to provide at least 1,350 hours of captioned "new" programming on each channel during each calendar quarter. In addition, a video programming distributor must include captioning in 30% of its "pre-rule" programming on each channel during each calendar quarter. We seek information on video programming providers' and consumers' experiences with closed captioning. Are providers complying with the existing rules? Are video distributors passing through the captions? Are the procedures for applying for an exemption based on an undue burden sufficient? Are the complaint procedures sufficient? What is the experience with the accuracy of captioning? As the amount of captioned programming increases, are the costs to caption programming decreasing? What are the current costs of real-time captioning used for live programs and off-line captioning used for pre-recorded programs on a per hour or per program basis? Are there voice recognition or other technologies available that are likely to change the methods by which programming is captioned? What has been the experience with the equipment and technologies associated with the captioning of multiplexed and high definition digital programming distributed over the air, on cable, and through other distribution systems? Are receivers functioning properly to display the advanced digital (EIA-708B) captions? In addition, we seek information on video programming providers' and consumers' experiences regarding the accessibility of emergency information through captioning or other visual means. We also seek information on the level and quality of captioning for non-English language programming.

The questions on video description are in paragraph 24:

24. In August 2000, the Commission adopted rules requiring certain larger broadcasters and video programming distributors to include "video descriptions" with a small amount of their programming to increase their accessibility to persons with visual disabilities. On November 8, 2002, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit vacated the Commission's video description rules, finding that they exceeded the Commission's authority. In light of this decision, video description currently is provided by programmers on a voluntary basis. We request information regarding the amount and types of video programming that include video description and whether MVPDs generally carry video descriptions inserted by programmers.

This page last updated:June 21, 2004

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