Home > Deaf History > Timeline of Closed Captioning Development

Timeline of Closed Captioning Development

November 3, 2009
  • 1971:  Preview of captioning at the First National Conference on Television for the Hearing Impaired in Nashville, Tennessee
  • 1972:  During a test at Gallaudet University, ABC and the National Bureau of Standards debuted closed captions embedded within the normal broadcast of Mod Squad.
  • 1972:  Open captioning began on PBS’s “The French Chef”
    • Open captioning appeared soon after on:
      • ABC World News Tonight
      • Zoom
      • Once Upon a Classic
    • These programs were captioned by the WGBH Caption Center
  • 1976:  The FCC adopted rules that provide that line 21 of the vertical blanking interval (VBI) be used primarily for the transmission of closed captioning
  • 1976:  The FCC adopted a rule requiring television licensees to transmit emergency messages in a visual format
  • 1979:  National Captioning Institute created
  • March 16, 1980:  The first closed captioned television series were broadcast for those who had bought caption decoders
    • The ABC Sunday Night Movie
    • The Wonderful World of Disney
    • Masterpiece Theater
  • 1982:  Real-time captioning debuted
  • 1990:  Television Decoder Circuitry Act of 1990 was passed, requiring all television receivers with screens of 13” or larger be able to receive and display captions by 1993
  • 1990:  Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 enacted, requiring all federally funded public service announcements to be closed captioned. 
  • 1992:  FCC adopted technical standards for closed captioning on cable systems
  • 1993:  Requirements from Television Decoder Circuitry Act of 1990 take effect
  • 1996:  Telecommunications Act of 1996 adds Section 713 to the Communications Act — requiring the FCC to prescribe rules and implementation schedules for closed captioning of television video programs
  • 1997:  The FCC adopts rules that gradually increase the amount of programming requiring closed captioning
  • 1998:  FCC’s closed captioning rules go into effect
  • 2000:  The FCC adopts an Order requiring an increasing amount of digital television programming to be captioned and establishes a phase-in schedule for closed captioning of digital programming
  • 2006:  100% of all new video programming, with exceptions, must be closed captioned on both digital and analog televisions (new analog programming is programming first aired on/after January 1, 1998; new digital programming is programming first aired on/after July 1, 2002)
  • 2008:  75% of all pre-rule video programming (pre-rule analog programming is programming first aired before January 1, 1998; pre-rule digital programming is programming first aired before July 1, 2002) must be captioned
  • 2010:  100% of all new analog and digital Spanish language programs, with exceptions, must be closed captioned
  • 2012:  75% of all pre-rule Spanish-language video programming must be captioned

From FCC website: http://www.fcc.gov/cgb/dro/cctimeline.html

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Categories: Deaf History
  1. Curious cat
    November 3, 2009 at 4:34 pm

    Intersting timeline. Can you find us the history how they developed closed caption?

  2. Deaf Hoss
    December 11, 2009 at 7:53 pm

    I did not see any update for 2009 regarding Closed Captioning?
    I do see that susposedly since 2006 ALL programming is suposed to CC.. I wonder what the exceptions are????
    I have noticed many programs that are not Captioned still????
    Is this possibly a Technical error?? or the program was not Captioned to begin with?? It saddens me that Programming Providers could care less if the Deaf are able to get anything out of the TV programs. Granted a lot of the programming is trash, but even many of the educational and public service programs are not CC.?

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