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Federal Communications Commission
1919 - M Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20554
News media information 202 / 418-0500
Fax-On-Demand 202 / 418-2830
Internet: http://www.fcc.gov

This is an unofficial announcement of Commission action. Release of the full text of a Commission order constitutes official action. See MCI v. FCC. 515 F 2d 385 (D.C. Circ 1974).

(202) 418-2358

Report No. CS 99-6 CABLE SERVICES ACTION March 31, 1999


Attached is a Fact Sheet released today on the rules for closed captioning of television programming. The purpose of the fact sheet is to provide general answers to questions that the public may have about the implementation of these rules.

The closed captioning fact sheet is available electronically on the Commission's website at "www.fcc.gov/Bureaus/Cable/WWW/csb.html." The Federal Communications Commission ("Commission") has also established a Disabilities Issues Task Force website that is exclusively devoted to issues which affect persons with disabilities. This website is accessible at "www.fcc.gov/dtf/." For further information, you may contact the Commission toll-free at 1-888-CALL-FCC (1-888-225-5322); TTY 1-888-TELL-FCC (1-888-835-5322) or (202) 418-7096; TTY (202) 418-7172.

As directed by Congress in the Telecommunications Act of 1996, the Commission adopted rules requiring closed captioning of most television programming. The rules became effective January 1, 1998. The majority of the Commission's closed captioning rules are phased-in over an eight year period, e.g., from January 1, 1998 to January 1, 2006.

The Commission notes, however, that the rule requiring video programming distributors to deliver captioned programming with the closed captioning data intact is effective at this time. This "pass through" rule requires that a program delivered to the video programming distributor with closed captions must be transmitted to viewers with the original closed captions fully intact (unless the programming is edited and the closed captions would have to be reformatted). Any loss of captioning prior to the end of the program or scrambling of captions would be a violation of this rule. Under the "pass through" rule, television viewers should expect captions to be available throughout the entire program. Viewers also should expect the captions to be readable. This means that there should be captions from the beginning to the end of the program. In addition, when providing other information, such as school closings or weather warnings, readable captions should continue to be provided.

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