FCC Committee Recommends Adoption Of SMPTE Closed-Captioning Standard For Online Video Content

White Plains, NY, 22 August 2011– A Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Advisory Committee has recommended that a standard for the closed-captioning of online video content developed by the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE), the worldwide leader in motion-imaging standards and education for the communications, media, and entertainment industries, be adopted by the FCC in itsimplementation of the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA).

The Act is designed to ensure the accessibility, usability, and affordability of broadband, wireless, and Internet technologies for people with disabilities. The standard, known as SMPTE Timed Text, was recommended in a report by the FCC’s Video Programming Accessibility Advisory Committee (VPAAC) and is available at:

The FCC is reviewing the report with key stakeholders as it writes the CVAA regulations.

In making its recommendation, the VPAAC noted that the SMPTE Timed Text standard is already used in production environments to repurpose television content for Internet use; is specified as the caption and subtitle format for the Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem’s UltraViolet format for commercial movie and television content; is specified in draft standards for Internet television delivery in  the U.K., France, Germany, Italy, and other European countries; and is currently being used by several video services and Internet video players.

“The recommendation that the FCC point to SMPTE Timed Text as the standard for the closed-captioning of online video is a major milestone towards ensuring all people, including people with disabilities, have access to and can enjoy online and web-enabled programming,” said Ann Marie Rohaly, who chaired the Society’s standards effort and is a member of the VPAAC, and Craig Cuttner, who led the development of the standard in SMPTE.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 54.4 million people reported some level of disability and 35 million reported a severe disability in 2005.

To accelerate the adoption of the closed-captioning standard, SMPTE announced in May that it was making SMPTE Timed Text available free for download. The overview document ST 2052-0-2010, the Standard ST 2052-1-2010, and an FAQ about the standard and its use are available at https://smpte.org/standards.

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