I don’t have cable TV, but I have heard plenty of complaints from people who do and enjoy closed captioning. The reasons to watch captioning are varied. At our house we have them on for me because I can only hear the TV at full volume and for Teddy who is making some inroads to learning to read – and the more exposure to words the better. Comcast, who happens to be my local provider has not made it possible for many of the closed captions to pass through the black box and onto the screen.
All that now changes. The FCC has reached an agreement with Comcast that within 120 days procedures will be reviewed to ensure people who want closed captioning are getting closed captioning. Than they will have 60 days to be sure existing customers have closed captioning capability. They have to report to the FCC any customers whose closed captioning capability is compromised and do an annual report on their testing procedures for the next two years. They also must make a 500,000 contribution to the US Treasury which helps all of us – Comcast customers or not.
Comcast is the nation’s dominant cable system provider. We must hold them accountable to follow the law. Without competition they have little reason to be concerned with this small niche market. This will hold the irons to the fire somewhat, but there is something you can do. When Comcast comes to you and asks you if your closed captioning is working – check it out and be sure it is. If it’s not – report it. You will be helping people who are dependent upon captioning have louder voices. Someday you may want to turn on the captioning, too.