Apr 142009

From the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)

The FCC’s closed captioning rules require consumers to first complain in writing to their TV distributor, such as your cable or satellite TV service, or to the TV station if you receive television via an over-the-air antenna, before contacting the FCC. Due to specific time limits established in the closed captioning rules, complaints should be filed as soon as possible after you experience the closed captioning problem.

The street address for your cable or satellite TV provider is usually on the back of your bill, or you can call the Customer Service number and ask for the company’s main or headquarter street address. Addresses for TV stations are generally found in the phone directory. Letters should be addressed to the General Manager or CEO of the company. If your distributor has an e-mail address for the customer service department, this e-mail address is also generally on the back of your bill.

Closed captioning complaints should be very specific. Include the following information in your written complaint to the TV distributor:

  • Your name, full address, daytime phone/TTY number, and any other contact information, such as an e-mail address if available, so they may contact you if any clarifications are needed
  • The name of the television program(s) you experienced closed captioning problems with
  • The name and number of the channel(s) the show was on (For example- Channel 3, The Art Channel)
  • The date(s) and time(s) you experienced the problems with closed captioning
  • A description of the closed captioning problem. For instance, “no closed captioning during entire show,” “closed captioning disappeared 5 minutes after the program began,” “closed captioning was garbled throughout the show,” “the words were unintelligible such as ‘axuy’ and ‘&8777**edz'” or “the closed captioning was not in sync with the audio.”

EXAMPLE: “On Monday February 6, 2006, I was watching Channel 52 (XYZ Channel), and the show “The Bad Guys” at 9 p.m. had no closed captioning, and during the re-run on Wednesday February 15, 2006, at 9 p.m. on Channel 52 (XYZ Channel) the closed captioning only appeared in the last 15 minutes of the program.”

If you are unsatisfied with the TV distributor’s response to your complaint, or the TV distributor does not respond within about 45 days, then quickly contact the FCC with all of the complaint information listed above as well as your contact information. You must provide the FCC with full and specific details, including a copy of your original written complaint that you sent to the TV distributor, and their response, if any.

You can also provide the FCC with any further information you think appropriate (e.g., copies of the TV schedule showing the CC logo for the program you saw without closed captioning or written out examples of garbled or missing closed captioning, videotapes if available, etc…).

Send all of this information to the FCC at 445 12th Street S.W., Washington, DC 20554, Attn. CICD/CGB. The complaint package you send to the FCC must also be sent to the TV distributor to let them know you have now complained to the FCC.

For further information on the FCC’s television closed captioning please see our Factsheet at http://www.fcc.gov/cgb/consumerfacts/closedcaption.html.

The closed captioning regulations are at http://www.fcc.gov/cgb/dro/captioning_regs.html. The complaint procedure is in the regulations at 47 CFR Part 79.1(g).

– Thanks to NVRC, Fairfax