The FCC recently issued two reminders about television programmer’s obligations to members of their audience who are hearing impaired.  The first notice made clear that stations must caption 100% of their "new, non-exempt" Spanish language programming as of January 1, 2010.  The second notice was to remind broadcasters that, when providing emergency information, they must make that information accessible to the hearing impaired, even if the programming falls into one of the captioning exemptions.  For instance, emergency information provided in live programming on a broadcast station with less than $3 million in revenues must still be accessible to the hearing impaired, either through closed or open captions, or through white boards or chalk boards or other devices that can be read by those who cannot hear the aural announcement on the station.

These issues are addressed in more detail in our Davis Wright Tremaine Advisory, here.  The memo also summarizes the current obligations of broadcasters and other video programmers under the FCC’s captioning rules, and the status of pending proceedings to potentially change the exemption for programming channels with less than $3 million in revenue so that DTV multicast streams would be included with a station’s main channel in deciding if the station met the exception.  It also discusses the status of implementation of new FCC rules changing the complaint process for violations of these rules.  These are important rules that the FCC takes seriously so, for more information, check out our Advisory