The Telecommunications Act of 1996 established closed captioning requirements for video programming distributors (television broadcast stations and multichannel video programming distributors such as cable, satellite, and other television service providers).
When the FCC established the closed captioning rules, it described how video programming would be “counted” as complying with the rules. For example, open captions or subtitles may be used instead of closed captioning and comply with the rules. Advertisements (commercials) that are less than five minutes long are not considered “video programming” and are, therefore, not required to have closed captions. Many businesses, however, caption their commercials voluntarily. Because captioning provides access to a commercial’s message for millions of deaf and hard of hearing television viewers, and for English language learners, captioning commercials makes good business sense.
The FCC recently decided that staring in January 2016, online video clips of content shown on television with captions are covered under the IP closed captioning rules. For more information regarding IP closed captioning regulations, please see the Closed Captioning of Internet Video Programming consumer guide.