The Federal Communications Commission or FCC approved new and more comprehensive rules for TV closed captioning in order to ensure full access to programming for viewers who are deaf or have hearing disabilities. Closed captioning is very important when it comes to media transcription as it increases the number of views. This refers to word-for-word transcription for what is being spoken in an episode including the sounds and incorporating them into the media file directly for presenting at the time of playback.
The FCC published the guidelines in two documents — Reports and Order, and a Declaratory Ruling. There is a third document Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FC 14-12) which invites comments regarding any additional captioning issues. The Order specifically adopts certain quality standards for captions such as:
- Accurate – Captions must match the words being spoken in the dialogue. They must convey the background noises as well.
- Synchronous – Captions must coincide with the related spoken words and sounds and music in the audio track to the greatest extent possible. They must appear on the screen at a speed that can be read by the viewers.
- Complete – Captions must run from where the program begins to the end to the fullest extent possible.
- Properly Placed – Captions must not block critical visual content on the screen. They should not overlap one another or run off the edge of the screen.
The Order finds that it is possible for pre-recorded programming to achieve the aforementioned quality standards since extra time is available for reviewing and editing captions offline.
The new rules also specify best practices for video programmers and captioning vendors so as to improve the captioning quality for viewers. Some of them are:
- Video programmers can provide high-quality program audio signals in order to ensure accurate captioning. They can also provide advanced access for captioning vendors to preparation materials including scripts, list of proper names pertaining to people and places, and song lyrics used in the program.
- Captioning vendors can make sure proper screening, training, supervision and evaluation of their captioners by expert captioning experts. They can take appropriate measures to make sure that their technical systems are functional so as to prevent service interruptions.
FCC’s new rules are applicable to all television programs with captions. So, it is very important to give full attention while transcribing for any show with captions. Consider obtaining transcription and captioning services from a professional transcription company if you have limited time and have to air many shows. Most reliable companies provide three-level quality checking so that you can finish the captioning in time while complying with the quality standard requirements.