FCC to Vet Pluto TV's Petition for Closed Captioning Waiver
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Pluto, Inc. (Pluto TV) has filed a petition requesting that the Media Bureau grant a waiver of the Commissionís rules requiring closed captioning of video programming delivered through Internet protocol (IP). Pluto TV is a free service that aggregates third-party video content and allows users to stream that content over the Internet through the Pluto TV app, a web browser, or integration onto certain platforms. Pluto TV requests a one-year waiver of the Commissionís IP closed captioning rules with respect to specific platforms for which it claims full compliance will soon be possible but is currently technically difficult. Pluto TV also requests a three-year waiver with respect to specific platforms for which it claims upgrading to fully compliant captioning poses greater technical challenges and will require significant financial and engineering resources.
In 2012, the Commission adopted rules under the authority of section 202 of the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 (CVAA) that require video programming owners, providers, and distributors to provide closed captioning on IP-delivered full-length video programming. In 2014, the Commission expanded the rules to require the closed captioning of IP-delivered video clips. Under these rules, video programming providers and distributors are required to enable the rendering or pass through of all required captions to the end user, maintaining the quality of the captions provided by the video programming owner and transmitting the captions in a format reasonably designed to reach the end user in that quality. Further, video programming providers and distributors that provide applications, plug ins, or devices in order to deliver video programming must comply with the requirements of section 79.103(c) and (d) of the rules, which govern technical display capabilities for closed captioning and interconnection on covered apparatus.
Pluto TV requests that the Commission temporarily waive its IP closed captioning rules with respect to Pluto TVís service on certain platforms upon which users can access Pluto TVís content. Pluto TV reports that more than 90 percent of its users can access its content with fully compliant captions on the most frequently used platforms. However, Pluto TV explains that there are certain platforms that will not be brought into compliance with the Commissionís IP closed captioning rules in the near- or mid-term for various reasons, such as the platforms being dated and lacking core capabilities, the company focusing its resources on the most heavily-used platforms, and the platforms not making available certain software upgrades.
Specifically, Pluto TV requests the Media Bureau grant a one-year waiver of the IP closed captioning rules with respect to the following platforms for which it claims it can reach full compliance, but needs more time to resolve technical issues to make captions availableóHisense; Playstation 3 (PS3) ; Samsung Orsay (2013-2014)/Samsung Tizen (2015-2016) ; Vizio Via/Vizio Via + Blink Browser ; and Vizio WatchFree.
Pluto TV also requests a three-year waiver with respect to the following platforms for which it does not currently provide captions and for which providing captions is difficult due to compatibility problems as these products are no longer regularly updatedóVizio Via/Vizio Via + Presto Browser, and Xbox 360. We seek comment on Pluto TVís request.