Pluto TV agrees to US$3.5 million fine over closed captions

ViacomCBS’s ad-supported streaming platform Pluto TV has agreed to pay a US$3.5 million fine over closed captioning rules. 

The FCC announced that Pluto had also agreed to enter into a compliance plan to ensure that its programming includes closed captioning going forward.

Pluto TV was found to be in violation of rules set out in the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010, which require operators to provide closed captioning on programming streaming over the internet if it had previously been shown on TV in the US with captions. 

The regulator first received complaints about Pluto TV’s lack of subtitles in 2018 and ultimately decided that it was in violation. 

In a statement, the FCC said: “The Investigation confirmed that Pluto had failed to comply with the IP Closed Captioning Rules when disseminating Video Programming on some Platforms. Even after being reminded of its closed captioning obligations, after filing the Petition for Waiver, after receiving the LOI and throughout the Investigation, Pluto continued to offer Pluto TV on existing Platforms and initiated Pluto TV on several new Platforms without being in compliance with the IP Closed Captioning Rules. As a result of Pluto’s actions, individuals with hearing disabilities were unable to access closed captioning when viewing Pluto TV over some Platforms.”

Responding to the fine, a spokesperson for Pluto TV said: “We recognize the importance of closed captioning and have been working in close collaboration with the FCC on the consent decree. Pluto TV’s mission, since its onset, has been to entertain the planet. We are committed to ensuring that our audiences can freely enjoy the programming streaming on our platform with ease of use and accessibility.”

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