IPR Ensures Broadcast Programs Remain Accessible to Deaf and Hard of Hearing Individuals

The Institute for Public Representation scored a victory for deaf and hard of hearing individuals last week when the Federal Communications Commission required a programmer to provide closed captions.

The FCC’s order found that Curtis Baptist Church, which airs an hour-long worship program every Sunday on WJBF-TV in Augusta, Georgia, had sufficient financial resources to pay for closed captions. Curtis Baptist Church had filed a petition with the FCC seeking a waiver of the closed captioning requirements, arguing that captioning would be economically burdensome.

Under the Communications Act and FCC rules, all programming broadcast on television must be captioned. The rules allow for exemptions to the captioning requirements, however, in various situations or if a programmer claims that captioning would be economically burdensome.

IPR’s client Telecommunications for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Inc. opposed the economically burdensome petition filed by Curtis Baptist Church along with dozens of other petitions filed by other programmers. Last spring, IPR students and a staff attorney drafted the opposition to Curtis Baptist Church on behalf of TDI. Numerous other groups advocating for deaf and hard of hearing individuals also signed on to IPR’s opposition to Curtis Baptist Church.

In the opposition, IPR argued that Curtis Baptist Church had incredible financial resources that would allow it to pay for its captioning expenses without suffering an economic burden.

In the order issued last week, the FCC largely agreed with IPR’s opposition. In analyzing the petition, the FCC compared Curtis Baptist Church’s quoted captioning expenses against its financial resources. Documents provided to click – thesildenafil the FCC showed that Curtis Baptist Church had profits of $317,550 in 2011 and $437,293 in 2012, compared to estimated captioning costs of $26,000 annually.

The FCC determined that because Curtis Baptist Church’s profits far outstripped its estimated captioning costs, captioning would not be economically burdensome. As a result, Curtis Baptist Church will have to begin captioning its programming by March 2015.

The decision against Curtis Baptist Church is the third order from the FCC this year finding that it would not be economically burdensome for particular programmers to provide closed captions. Because the programs must now be captioned, the FCC’s decision ensures that deaf and hard of hearing individuals will be able to access more content broadcast on television.

 

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