• Providing subtitles to TV programs required by law

    Persida Acosta

    Persida Acosta

    Dear PAO,
    I am a deaf mute who doesn’t get to enjoy watching regular television programs for obvious reasons. I recently learned that a new law was passed that requires TV programs to have subtitles now. What is the coverage of this law, and are all TV programs required to have subtitles? Please give me more information about this law. Thanks!

    Dear Levy,
    The law you are referring to is Republic Act (RA) 10905 or “An act requiring all franchise holders or operators of television stations and producers of television programs to broadcast or present their programs with closed captions option, and for other purposes.”

    This law primarily requires television stations to provide closed captions option for their programs. Closed caption is defined by this law as a method of subtitling television programs by coding statements as vertical data signal that are decoded at the receiver and superimposed at the bottom of the television screen (Sec.2 (a), RA 10905). In other words, these closed captions are the subtitles that you are referring to in television programs.

    Under this law, all franchise holders or operators of television stations and producers of television programs are required to provide closed captions option in the broadcast of their programs including newscast, news programs and pre-scripted programs. (Sec.1, Ibid.)

    While this law requires the use of closed caption options in various television programs mentioned above, there are certain kind of programs that are exempted from this requirement. According to Section 3 of this law, the following programs shall be exempted from the closed captioning requirements:

    “(a) Public service announcements that are shorter than ten (10) minutes;

    (b) Programs shown in the early morning hours from 1:00 a.m. to 6:00 a.m.;

    (c) Programs that are primarily textual in nature; and

    (d) When compliance would be economically burdensome.”

    It is also important to note that stiff penalty for non-compliance and violation is imposed by this law. Any franchise holder or operator of television stations and producer of television programs who shall violate this law shall be punished by a fine of not less than fifty thousand pesos (P50,000.00) but not more than one hundred thousand pesos (Pl00,000.00) or by imprisonment of not less than six (6) months but not more than one (1) year, or both, at the discretion of the court. (Sec. 4, Ibid.)

    Again, we find it necessary to mention that this opinion is solely based on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. The opinion may vary when the facts are changed or elaborated.
    We hope that we were able to enlighten you on the matter.

    Editor’s note: Dear PAO is a daily column of the Public Attorney’s Office. Questions for Chief Acosta may be sent to dearpao@manilatimes.net


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