APEX Australasia Conference: APEX readies for closed-captioning NPRM

The Airline Passenger Experience Association (APEX) is aiming to have a white paper on closed captioning ready for release at the end of May, ahead of an expected notice of proposed rule-making (NPRM) from the US Department of Transportation in June/July.

APEX released a survey to its members on the issue earlier this year and the association is urging members to respond as it’s going to have wide-ranging implications for the in-flight entertainment industry, delegates heard at the APEX Australasia regional conference, which took place in Sydney, Australia this week.

“This affects the whole value chain of the IFE community, not just one group,” said Jonathan Norris, vice-president sales Lumexis and APEX Technology Committee member, adding that other countries are likely to follow the US lead.
The requirement for closed captioning for deaf and hard of hearing passengers on video IFE content on all services flying into and out of the United States first emerged in 2006 but at that time the industry successfully argued that IFE systems could not support it until the implementation of MPEG 4. The proposal re-emerged earlier this year.
APEX, which has developed a closed caption standard for the industry, has been following the issue via its Closed Caption Working Group. While latest generation IFE systems can support the requirement there will still be a significant number of earlier generation MPEG 1/2 systems flying in five years’ time. In addition, while closed caption content is readily available for current and future releases from US studios, there is limited data for content created outside of the US, as well as older movies and television shows. Those that have responded to the still open survey also raise concerns over cost issues and lengthening delivery times.
This will go into law, said Norris, adding that the industry needs a “least pain solution for the industry as a whole”.Emma Kelly, Inflight / Inflight-Online.com

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