Captioning Web-Exclusive Shows

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If it airs on television, it must have captions. But what about all those original series from Over The Top (OTT = content delivered via the internet without the involvement of a service operator) services like Netflix and Amazon?

For now, the FCC only has purview over programming that airs on TV. Technically, that includes broadcasters and programming/channels distributed by a Multichannel Video Programming Distributor (MVPD = cable and satellite companies). The FCC can require captions on TV and captions online for any program or clip of programming that aired on TV, but as of right now, they can’t require that web-exclusive video be captioned.

That could change in the future, as the FCC is considering if and how to address OTT entities like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon, but a ruling is not expected any time soon. The following link is the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking where they discuss this issue: https://www.fcc.gov/document/commission-adopts-mvpd-definition-nprm

Fortunately, most major OTT providers are captioning everything. Netflix was sued by the National Association for the Deaf under the Americans with Disabilities Act, and as a result, must caption everything. iTunes requires everything delivered to them, whether it aired on TV or not, be captioned. Hulu and Amazon have similar rules.

While web-exclusive videos are not yet required to be captioned, most of the larger OTT providers are captioning and/or working to caption all of their content. We urge everyone to caption web-exclusive videos for accessibility.

By Brittany Bender