As FCC closed captioning deadline looms, online video industry largely silent

The FCC deadline of Sept. 30, after which closed captioning must be provided for all online programming originally aired on TV, is coming up fast.  But will TV networks and other purveyors of online video content be ready?

Those affected by the ruling have had almost exactly two years to prepare for this eventuality, as President Obama signed the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 into law on Oct. 8, 2010. The Digital Media Association (DiMA), with many powerful members like Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL), Sony (Nasdaq: SNEand YouTube, had asked for the deadline to be delayed, but the FCC declined the request.

DiMA argued some of its VPDs (video product distributors) "simply cannot overcome the significant technical challenges associated with implementing" all of the required changes in such a short time, as the FCC released specifics only six months before the start date. But at least one other company says it has made significant strides to align itself with the new guidelines.

Brightcove (Nasdaq: BCOV), a video hosting and publishing company, says it has been preparing for the switch by "moving to treat closed captioning as a core function in our upload and transcoding process," according to a blog post by former Brightcove PR and Marketing Manager Chris Nicholson, who  added that the company already supports closed captioning.

Competitors were not as forthcoming about their strategies. FierceOnlineVideo contacted five additional video hosting or publishing sites including YouTube, Ooyala and, none of which returned requests for comment. If they are getting ready for the overhaul, these companies are doing it quietly.

The saving grace for some VPDs may be that the new rules will not be implemented all at once.  According to a GigaOM article, although distributors will have to offer closed captions, "they won't have to provide the raw captioning data to the web video player to allow for further customization… for another 16 months." This means viewers will have closed captioning but won't have the option to tailor it to their needs by changing aspects like font size and color.

For more:
- see the FCC ruling
- check out Brightcove's blog post
- read the GigaOM article

Related articles:
FCC temporarily suspends effort to deregulate special access
FCC tells Web TV providers to start using online captions next month