Small TV producers threatened by closed captioning rules


Closed CaptionA report from Crain’s Chicago Business notes that there are a lot of niche and religious producers running shoestring television operations that lack the financial wherewithal to meet the FCC’s closed captioning requirements – and notes that waivers have been hard to come by.

One of the shows the article focused on is JBTV, which has been running for 27 years, providing a showcase for unknown rock acts that airs locally at 11PM Saturdays.

Some of the acts haven’t remained unknown: two of them have been Smashing Pumpkins and the Dave Matthews Band, who appeared before they were famous.

It is a labor of love rather than a profit-making venture, created by a former TV news reporter and current radio/television commercial actor, staffed by unpaid interns, and produced on a budget of $120 per show. Adding closed captioning would shoot that figure up five times to over $600, according to estimates.

Small churches programs are the biggest group of producers facing the financial hurdle created by the new rules. One producer said the requirement may not be a big deal at all for churches bringing in multi-million dollar incomes, but it is an insurmountable obstacle for many smaller organizations.

According to the article, 853 requests for waivers have thus far been denied by the FCC, often because of the failure to adequately document financial conditions, and 320 requests are pending.