Re: Closed Captioning

Ben Achtenberg (
Wed, 2 Oct 2002 08:46:47 -0700 (PDT)

Hi Kathy --

I was hoping someone more knowledgeable than I am would jump in on this
one, but I didn't want it to remain unanswered, so here goes:

At the present time a gradually increasing amount of programming shown on
broadcast television must be captioned, but by no means all of it -- as you
can easily confirm by checking what appears on your local stations. The
website below has a description of the applicable law which, as far as I
know, is accurate. It explains the gradual phasing in process, and the many
exceptions which exist:

As you might expect, public television appears to be the leader in
captioning, and most if not all documentaries and educational films
produced by or for public TV are likely to be captioned.

There is no regulation which covers non-broadcast productions, nor could
there be. The FCC has standing regarding broadcasting only because of the
public nature of the airwaves. Many institutions, however, are making
captioning at least one of the criteria they use in purchasing, and a few
are making it a requirement.

I would be very interested in hearing from vidlib participants about their
own organizations' policies on this, and I'm sure that other producers and
distributors would like to know as well. Obviously the more demand there
is for captioned programming, the more of it will be produced.

Here at Fanlight Productions, everything we have PRODUCED in the past 6-8
years we have had captioned, and we strongly encourage the other producers
whose films we distribute to do so as well. It's up to each producer,
however. You can search our site to find all of our captioned titles
[NOTE: searching will be easier on our newly re-designed site which should
be up in a month or so. Watch for it!]

Another good resource is DocuSeek ( which offers a portal
to the collections of seven independent media distributors (including
Fanlight). Using the "Advanced Search" feature on this site enables you to
search on captioning as well as a variety of other criteria.

Finally, the website of the Captioned Media Program of the National
Association of the Deaf ( has an extensive listing of captioned
videos (see "Captioned Media from Other Sources" in the left-hand column)
though it's not easy to browse.

Good luck,
Ben Achtenberg


At 09:00 AM 9/24/02 -0700, you wrote:
>What are the regulations concerning closed captioning for
>videos? I have found information on FCC regulations for
>captioning of televised video programming subsequent to the
>1996 Telecommunications Act. What I have not been able to
>determine is what requirements exist for closed captioning
>of packaged videos.
>I had been under the impression (perhaps mistakenly) that
>videos produced subsequent to 1998 were required to include
>captioning. However, we just purchased an educational video
>produced in 2001 that is not captioned. Can anyone help
>clarify this or suggest a site where I might find this
>information? (I did email the FCC's info address, but they
>have not responded.)
>Thanks in advance.
>Kathleen A. Turnquist, Director
>Audio Visual Institute of DuPage