Today’s Regulatory Mix:  $3.5 Million Penalty First of Its Kind, emergency Broadband Benefit Program Misconduct Alleged

$3.5 Million Penalty First of its Kind 

The FCC’s Enforcement Bureau announced a settlement with Pluto Inc. and its parent company, ViacomCBS Inc., regarding violations of the accessibility rules. Pursuant to the settlement, the companies shall pay $3.5 million in civil penalties. According to the announcement, this is the first enforcement action and first consent decree related to Internet Protocol (IP) closed captioning rules since their adoption in 2012. The rules require the closed captioning of IP-delivered video programming and impose requirements on certain apparatus that receive or play back video programming (including certain recording devices). All nonexempt full-length video programming delivered using IP must be provided with closed captions if the programming was previously shown on television in the United States with captions or is live programming being shown on television in the United States with captions. 

In this case, Pluto failed to implement the closed captioning functionality requirements and make contact information available to users in order to submit written closed captioning complaints. 


Emergency Broadband Benefit Program Misconduct Alleged 

ACA Connects asked the FCC to investigate potential misconduct among some Emergency Broadband Benefit Program providers. ACA Connects contends some participating providers are transferring EBB benefits between providers without the household’s apparent knowledge or intent. “The best explanation for this trend is that the providers in question are attempting to game the reimbursement process by adding households shortly before the ‘snapshot date.’ When these providers are successful, they receive the full benefit for that month, while the ACA Connects member or other provider that had been serving the household for virtually the entire month loses any right to claim any reimbursement,” ACA Connects told the FCC. 


The Regulatory Mix, Inteserra’s blog of telecom related regulatory activities, is a snapshot of PUC, FCC, legislative, and occasionally court issues that our regulatory monitoring team uncovers each day. Depending on their significance, some items may be the subject of an Inteserra Briefing.