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U.S. Reconsidering Old Closed Captioning Exemption Petitions

The FCC received about 600 petitions for individual closed captioning exemptions from October 2005 through August 2006

The U.S. government is reconsidering older individual petitions seeking exemptions from federal closed captioning requirements, but because some of those requests were filed up to seven years ago it is also rechecking the accuracy and currentness of those petitions.

On May 4, 2012, the Federal Communications Commission filed a Federal Register notice—Notice of Need to File Updated Information for Some Closed Caption Exemption Petitions—which says from October 2005 through August 2006, the FCC received about 600 petitions for individual closed captioning exemptions.

In 2006, the FCC granted 305 of the petitions, but also during 2006 the commission received an application to review those petitions, an application the FCC granted. As a result, in November 2011 the exemptions were reversed, says the notice. In reversing the petitions, the FCC also “set forth guidance” on the information and documentation that closed captioning petitions should contain, along with standards that should be used to determine when a closed captioning exemption is warranted, the notice says.

Also at issue are the unresolved petitions for exemptions that are not subject to the reversal. Although some of those petitions were previously placed on public notice, “no decision to grant or to deny” was ever made regarding those petitions, the notice says. The FCC “is now ready to apply the standards” restored by the reversal to resolve the claims for an exemption by those petitioners.

However, the FCC realizes that considerable time has passed since many of those petitions were first filed, and that various circumstances including, but not limited to, the financial status of the petitioners and the cost of captioning, may have changed. Therefore, to ensure that information provided in each petition is current and accurate, petitioners who want to continue seeking a closed captioning exemption for its programming must provide additional documentation including:

File an affirmation with the FCC that its previously submitted petition and supporting information is accurate and up-to-date

File updated information supporting a claim that captioning program(s) would be economically burdensome

Or withdraw the previously submitted petition.

Petitioners who do not take one of the steps listed above by July 5, 2012, their pending petitions will be dismissed on that date, the notice says. Petitioners interested in continuing to request closed captioning exemptions for their programming, must include up-to-date evidence, supported by affidavit, demonstrating that it would be economically burdensome to provide closed captioning on the specific programming for which an exemption is sought, it says.

The documentation should cover the following areas:

The nature and cost of the closed captions for the programming

The impact on the operation of the provider or program owner

The financial resources of the provider or program owner

The type of operations of the provider or program owner