Newsrooms of small and medium broadcasters will have until June 30, 2014 to come into compliance with the Commission’s new Electronic Newsroom Technique (ENT) closed captioning rules.  Stations other than the four major national broadcast networks and their affiliates in the Top 25 DMAs may use ENT to caption live programming.   Publication in today’s Federal Register of the FCC’s February 2014 Closed Captioning Order triggered a 90-day compliance deadline for the so-called “Enhanced ENT” rules, which will allow these stations to continue use to use ENT for local newscasts as long as the bulk of news segments are scripted.

As detailed in a previous post, ENT converts the dialogue included in a teleprompter script into captions.  Under the new Enhanced ENT rules, broadcast stations will fall into a compliance safe harbor if they:  (1) script in-studio produced programming, weather information, and pre-produced information; (2) supplement non-scripted live interviews and/or breaking news segments with crawls or textual information; (3) provide training to all news staff; and (4) appoint an ENT Coordinator.

Of note, the “compliance ladder” enforcement approach for Enhanced ENT has not yet been approved by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and is therefore not yet effective.  In addition, OMB has not yet approved the new captioning quality rules or the recordkeeping requirements of efforts to monitor and maintain captioning equipment.

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