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Why are Boston TV stations streaming with closed captioning?

WCVB-TV Broadcast
WCVB-TV Broadcast

Many people have been glued to local television coverage of the Boston Marathon bomb blasts since Monday. If you live outside of the Boston metropolitan area, you might have watched one of the four local television stations to stream their broadcasts over the Internet.

If you’re like me, you might be wondering why two stations — ABC affiliate WCVB and NBC affiliate WHDH — stream their coverage with closed captioning.

The reason can be found within the “Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010.” The FCC regulation is complex, but it basically states that most programs that air on television with closed captioning availability must also be captioned when delivered on the Internet.

Programs that are pre-recorded and aired on television after September 30, 2012 must also have closed captioning available when published online. Programs that are streamed online by a broadcast outlet must also make closed captioning available if it is a simulcast of a “live or near live” program aired on television after March 30, 2012.

The exception is for clips of news broadcasts or television programming, foreign programming and content edited or produced specifically for the Internet. A raw satellite feed streamed online by a TV station, but not aired on television, would generally be exempt from captioning, but a broadcast signal aired on TV — like WCVB’s coverage of the Boston Marathon blasts — would require captioning.

Read more about Internet closed captioning requirements at JDSupra Law News

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is the publisher of The Desk and reports on the business and policy matters involving the broadcast television, streaming video and radio industries. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, Disney-ABC, Tribune Broadcasting and McNaughton Newspapers. Matthew is based in Northern California, has won numerous awards in the field of journalism, and is a member of IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors).