Tell the FCC You Have the Right to Access Captioning for Local Religious TV Programs

TDI-L eNote 9/18/06

ACTION ALERT – Tell the FCC You Have the Right to Access Captioning for Local Religious TV Programs

TDI wants to thank you for sending letters to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) last month regarding their actions on TV emergency captioning. TDI received copies of more than 200 letters from you who took the time during your work schedule or vacation to send a letter to the FCC. That was true democracy in action!

However, TDI NEEDS YOUR HELP ONCE MORE! Do you like to watch outdoor shows to get ideas for your next hunting or fishing trip? Do you like to watch religious programs from your local group for your own spiritual needs? Are they captioned? Most likely, not. And thanks to a recent decision by the FCC, many of those shows may never be captioned even though 100% of all new programs are required to be captioned.

On September 12, 2006, decisions by the FCC have undermined our rights as television viewers who rely on captioning by granting an exemption to two nonprofit video producers, Anglers for Christ Ministries (Anglers) and New Beginning Ministries (New Beginnings). In their requests for “undue burden” waivers, Anglers and New Beginnings threatened to stop producing their shows if they were forced to caption. These producers claim they do not earn any money from airing these shows and apparently there were no extensive cost-benefit analysis done by the program petitioners nor the FCC. Anglers produces “Reel Kids in the Outdoors”, an all-volunteer faith-based outdoor fishing show for children. New Beginnings pay Christian Television Network $750 each week for airing “In His Image” on that network.

The FCC has tentatively concluded that it will be inclined to grant waiver petitions when a nonprofit organization that does not receive compensation from airing its programming seeks an exemption to prevent termination or substantial reductions in its programming. TDI respectfully disagrees with the FCC. Producers are still financially able to put together the TV programs for on-air broadcast, cable or satellite. Therefore, they must be held accountable to make their programs accessible to people with disabilities.

Up until last week, TDI has led joint efforts with other national organizations to evaluate and oppose the requests for waiver where justified. On a case-by-case basis, the FCC denied waivers for many of those video programs. A few programmers did receive TEMPORARY waivers. But this time, the FCC changed their position and procedures, thus choosing not to consider TDI’s feedback in support of your rights for the first time in years. In addition to those two programs, all at once, nearly 300 additional programs were also given permanent waivers. We need to tell the FCC to rescind these waivers NOW. If we do not do anything, it is possible that there will be further cutbacks in captioning, especially on your local outdoor or religious programs. Unless we speak up, more and more programs may be excused from captioning for good – PERMANENTLY.

TDI wants all of you to write letters to the FCC again. We feel that this latest action by the FCC will severely impair our access to television. Hunting and fishing shows routinely include safety tips for new hunters and fishermen, but if they are not captioned, your life is at risk. Religious shows bring diversity of views and spiritual enrichment to a significant part of the community that follow their beliefs. All programmers, large and small must be required to caption. We cannot rely on industry to do it voluntarily. Now we cannot rely on the government to enforce its own laws without adding adverse regulations and not have the benefit and due process of public notice.

PLEASE WRITE A LETTER TO THE FCC and tell them to rescind the announcement regarding captioning waivers issued on 9/13/06. Share this email alert with your friends. We need more of you to write to the FCC this time and complain about the waivers. If you know the US Senators from your state and the US Congressman from your district, please send them a copy of your letter.

Please send an email or call the FCC as follows:

– FCC Information email [email protected]
– Chairman Kevin J. Martin [email protected] (202) 418-1000
– Commissioner Michael J. Copps [email protected] (202) 418-2000
– Commissioner Jonathan S. Adelstein [email protected] (202) 418-2300
– Commissioner Deborah Taylor-Tate [email protected] (202) 418-2500
– Commissioner Robert M. McDowell [email protected] (202) 418-2200

– Monica Desai, Chief, Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau [email protected] (202) 418-1400
– Jay Keithley, Deputy Chief (Policy) Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau [email protected]
– Tom Chandler, Chief, Disability Rights Office [email protected]
– Cheryl King. Deputy Chief, Disability Rights Office [email protected]
– Telecommunications for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Inc. [email protected]
– US Senator ____________
– US Senator ____________
– US Representative ________________

The FCC mailing address and fax number is:

Federal Communications Commission
445 12th Street, SW
Washington, DC 20054

FAX: Attn: Chairman Martin
(202) 418-0232

Feel free to copy this sample letter below and add your personal part in the letter. If you know of any locally produced outdoor or religious shows that ARE captioned, please to mention it in your letter.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
September 18, 2006

Kevin J. Martin, Chairman
Michael J. Copps, Commissioner
Jonathan S. Adelstein, Commissioner
Deborah Taylor Tate, Commissioner
Robert M. McDowell, Commissioner

Dear Commissioners,

This is to let you know that I fully support the action alerts from TDI and other national organizations to oppose the decisions taken by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on September 12, 2006. We respectfully ask that the FCC reverse its September 12, 2006 decisions regarding television captioning waivers.

Churches make up a very important part of every community. It is within their mission to support the basic needs of all people within their reach. When Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast one year ago, they were among the first to offer help with shelter, food, and other assistance to the survivors. Captioning TV programs does meet a legitimate basic need for access to information just like building a ramp to the church door. By providing captions to meet the needs of a significant population group, the churches will find themselves with an expanded TV viewership, which will lead to an increase in their membership and other support from the community. When children and adults are able to read captions on spiritual programs, they are influenced to live up to high moral standards and contribute their part to the community. Hearing loss is the number one growing disability among senior citizens – they will find themselves depending on captioning to listen to the message.

We want to participate fully in all programs and services at our local church because it serves as a vital resource that empowers us to be fully integrated in the community. If one of us who are deaf or hard of hearing sees the services with captions on TV, we can interact with other church members, neighbors, fellow employees, family members, and service professionals in the local community. We stand to benefit from the “local connection” that national religious programs are unable to provide.

We know that all video programmers have had ten years to prepare for the captioning regulations now in place, and temporary waivers when appropriate. When you give full permanent exemptions to the two programmers, it reverses all the access we have worked on for years. We ask that programmers consider other possible revenue options such as sponsorships, long-term captioning service agreements, and aftermarket sales (videotapes or DVDs) to cover and minimize the cost of captioning. Or, they can reduce other expenses in their production budgets to enable the provision of captioning.

Closed captioning gives me a) access to news that is indispensible to the community, b) entertainment that is an integral part of our lives, and c) education that paves the way for us to become self-sufficient in society. The information that everyone in the community receives is also important to me and I can only get it if it is captioned.

Thank you for your consideration,


(your name)
(home address)
(home city, state & zip code)
(email address.)

Monica Desai, Chief, Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau
Jay Keithley, Deputy Chief (Policy), Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau Tom Chandler, Chief, Disability Rights Office Cheryl King, Deputy Chief, Disability Rights Office

Your US Senator and/or US Congressman

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
For more information about:
FCC’s captioning regulations and exemptions:
DHHCAN 2006 Captioning Guide:
The 9/13/06 announcement:

# # #

About TDI:
Telecommunications for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Inc. is a nonprofit advocacy organization that promotes equal access to telecommunications, media and information technology for individuals who are deaf and hard of hearing. Since 1968, TDI has successfully advocated for a variety of federal legislation to improve the lives of people with hearing loss, including the Hearing Aid Compatibility Act of 1988, the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Television Decoder Circuitry Act, both of 1990, and the Telecommunications Act of 1996. In addition, TDI advocates for administrative rules and policies that will provide greater access to wireless technology, as well as complete and high-quality captioning of television programs. Since its inception, TDI has promoted equal access to 9-1-1 centers and other public safety answering points, and is now working to ensure full access for deaf and hard of hearing people to information during natural or manmade disasters and other types
of emergencies. TDI annually publishes a national directory and resource guide, commonly known as The Blue Book, which is a popular resource book for people who are deaf and hard of hearing, as well as The GA-SK Quarterly News Magazine. For more information about TDI, visit


Jim House
Public Relations & Resource Development Officer Telecommunications for the Deaf & Hard of Hearing, Inc. 8630 Fenton Street, Suite 604 Silver Spring, MD 20910-3803
TTY: 301-589-3006
VP: IM me first at AOL=jimhousetdi
FAX: 301-589-3797
Voice: 301-589-3786
Relay: 7-1-1
[email protected]
Promoting Equal Access to Telecommunications, Media & Information Technology for People who are Deaf, Late-Deafened, Hard-of-Hearing or Deaf-Blind

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