SMPTE Receives FCC Accessibility Award For Closed-Captioning Standard

Commission Chairman Genachowski To Recognize Society Next Week In Washington, D.C.


SMPTE standard freely available at

White Plains, NY, 14 December 2012 – The Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE), the worldwide leader in motion-imaging standards and education for the communications, media, entertainment, and technology industries, today announced that its SMPTE Timed Text standard for the captioning of video content distributed via the Internet will be honored by the U.S Federal Communications Commission (FCC) with a Chairman’s Award for Advancement in Accessibility. Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski will present the award to the Society at a ceremony on 19 December 2012 at the FCC headquarters in Washington, D.C. 

The SMPTE Timed Text standard is designed to accelerate the transition of broadcast content to the Internet and make it more easily accessible to tens of millions of people with disabilities. In February, the FCC declared the SMPTE Timed Text standard a safe harbor interchange and delivery format. As a result, captioned video content distributed via the Internet that uses the standard will comply with the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act, a landmark U.S. law designed to ensure the accessibility, usability, and affordability of broadband, wireless, and Internet technologies for people with disabilities.

The standard is available free of charge from SMPTE at

“On behalf of the committee that worked diligently to craft this standard and the myriad accessibility organizations that contributed to and supported that effort, SMPTE is honored to receive this award,” said the Society’s president Pete Ludé. “It is enormously gratifying to be involved in an effort that will make a positive and lasting impact in the lives of tens of millions of people.”

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.

About The FCC Chairman’s Awards
Now in their second year, the FCC Chairman’s awards are intended to encourage technological innovation in communication-related areas and to recognize engineers, researchers, and other technologists whose energies and perseverance contribute to technologies that help people with disabilities to obtain and succeed at jobs and participate more actively in the community. 

The awards are a project of the FCC’s Accessibility and Innovation Initiative, which is based on a recommendation from the FCC’s 2010 National Broadband Plan. The A&I Initiative seeks to facilitate dialogue among industry, assistive technology companies, app developers, government representatives, and consumers to allow stakeholders to share best practices and solutions for accessible communications technologies. 

About The SMPTE Timed Text Standard
The SMPTE Timed Text standard, largely based on the Timed Text Markup Language (TTML) 1.0 of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), is already used in production environments to repurpose television content for Internet use; is the basis for subtitles and captions in the Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem’s UltraViolet™ format for commercial movie and television content; shares a common base with subtitles for Internet-delivered television in the U.K. and other European countries; and is currently being used by several video services and Internet video players.