A Federal Communications Commission ruling on closed captioning of television programs could jeopardize the continued broadcast of shows produced by “some 300 small- to medium-sized churches,” according to Politico. At issue is whether or not these programs should be exempt from FCC requirements for closed captioning. “The Telecommunications Act of 1996 required the FCC to establish a suitable timetable by which television broadcasters and equipment manufacturers would be required to provide closed captioning,” explains the Christian Post. “The FCC required broadcasters to fulfill the closed captioning requirement by January 2006,” the report adds. However, the agency exempted certain religious broadcasters from the requirement under the so-called “Anglers Order,” named for the ministry, Anglers for Christ, that had requested the exemption.
The FCC’s Consumer and Government Affairs Bureau proceeded to grant at least 298 more exemptions under that order, essentially waiving the requirement for any nonprofit broadcaster. This displeased advocacy groups for the deaf and hearing impaired, who filed a complaint with the FCC. “The complaint argues that this exemption is too broad because it does not require broadcasters to show that compliance would create a financial hardship,” Politico writes.
The full commission agreed with the complaint and is now sending letters to the previously exempt broadcasters, giving them 90 days to reapply for the exemption. “If broadcasters reapply for an exemption,” says the Christian Post, “they must show that providing closed captioning would create a financial hardship to obtain the exemption.”
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