Top 12 of 2012 #12 – US regulator takes the lead on online captioning

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Tuesday, 18 December 2012 12:22pm

The USA has seen a number of developments this year which will increase the availability of captions online. With the world’s most popular content coming out of Hollywood, these changes have significant international implications.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) ruled that from September 30, all television networks must provide captions for the content they put online. This only applies to content that was originally broadcast on TV, as required by the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010.

After a court case brought against the company by the National Association of the Deaf, US-based video on demand service Netflix agreed to provide captions for all its content. Netflix is an incredibly popular service, with Americans watching up to a billion hours of Netflix content each month. Available in North America, South America, the UK and Scandinavia, we can expect to see a flow-on effect of increased caption availability around the world.

In response to these developments, the social video sharing service YouTube now asks users if the videos they upload are required to be captioned. YouTube has also asked users to report videos that should be captioned but aren’t.

While captioning on Australian broadcast television is largely in keeping with international standards, there has been a significant delay with moving captions across to catch-up and on demand services. With so much content coming to Australia from the US, we hope that the broader availability of captions overseas encourages Australian media outlets to lift their game.

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