Closed Captioning Standards for Broadcasts- CEA 608 CEA 708 closed captions

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CEA- 608 & CEA- 708 Closed Captions

CEA- 608 & CEA- 708 Closed Captions


There are millions of people who consume content over the internet every day, especially after the pandemic. Video is the most popular online format. According to Oberle, the current global average of video consumption per day stands around 84 minutes in terms of daily usage. The most popular video content type is music videos, followed by comedies, memes, how-to-videos, educational videos, product reviews, gaming videos, and influencer videos and vlogs. 

According to the WHO, over 5% of the world population, which is about 430 million people are hearing-impaired. They fail to enjoy the online video content thoroughly. Inclusivity starts with adding captions and subtitles as they aid a parallel reading version to the deaf or hard-of-hearing.  Let us in this article discuss closed captions and subtitles and the need for CEA- 608 and CEA- 708 captions in your videos to make your content completely accessible to worldwide audiences.

What are Captions and Closed Captions (CC)?

Captions are time-synchronized speech-to-text conversions of the audio content. Captions, also known as timed-text files, include non-speech elements like sound effects, music, audience reaction, speaker identification, and other sonic information. Including these non-speech elements in your captions increases the accuracy and comprehension. 

Captions assume that the viewer cannot hear. According to a study of BBC television viewers, 80% of caption users are not hard of hearing or deaf. They can be not-yet-fluent English speakers, hearing-impaired individuals, and people with auditory processing disorders and can experience listening fatigue. This can inhibit their understanding and limit their participation. 

Captions can be broadly classified as Open and Closed captions. Open Captions are added to your video file or media player where viewers have no option to turn it on and off. On the other hand, Closed Captions can be turned on and off, and the user has full control over his viewing experience. Most TV shows, educational videos, events, and meetings prefer closed captions as they can be enabled and disabled when needed. The roll-on and the pop-up captioning styles are the two types of closed captions. Closed captions are an ideal choice when multiple speakers appear on the screen. 

CEA 608 & CEA 708 Captions


In several countries, captions are mandatory by law. All television broadcasts, especially those in the United States, must have closed captioning. Both CEA- 608 and CEA-708 are standards used for closed captions in broadcasting television. 

What is CEA?

CEA stands for Consumer Electronics Association. This CEA is now called CTA- Consumer Technology Association. EIA is Electronic Industries Alliance that first developed standards for captions. The EIA is no longer active. 

Both CEA-608 and CEA-708 are legal laws governing closed captioning of TV transmissions in the US, Canada, and Mexico. Both standards, though, are widely applied everywhere.

CEA- 608 Captions

The CEA-608 standard, also known as EIA-608 or “Line 21” captions, is an earlier one that was created in response to legal actions and legislation aimed at ensuring that TV shows are accessible to those who are deaf or hard of hearing. The Television Decoder Circuitry Act’s enactment in 1990 solidified this standard. For a smooth transition from 608 to 708- analog to digital, 608 captions are still in use. They can be identified with their customary appearance, which consists of black box backgrounds and uppercase white lettering.

608 captions are encoded in Line 21 of the analog TV signal and are viewable with only a decoder. Broadcasters cannot customize the font, positioning, and text sizes as they are fixed. Also, these captions can be transmitted in two fields, which means captions could be broadcast in two languages simultaneously. Generally, the first channel is used for English, while the second is used for Spanish.

As digital TV grows more widespread, CEA-608 is becoming less common because it doesn’t follow the most recent rules in the US. They do not comply with the FCC’s latest closed captioning requirements that were introduced in February 2014.

CEA- 708 Captions

CEA- 708 captions are the new standard for closed captioning for ATSC digital television streams in the United States and Canada. The 708 captions follow more advanced standards than the 608 captions. These captions rule out the limitations of 608 captions and also adds a new range of features to them. This contains a larger selection of character sets, simultaneous support for several caption languages, and caption positioning choices.

The viewer is free to choose from 8 font options, 3 text sizes, 64 different text colors, and 64 background colors. The 708 captions do not block important on-screen information when considering positioning, which is crucial according to FCC regulations. The background opacity, text edges, and drop shadow can also be customized. 

These captions are embedded through MPEG-2 streams in the picture user data of the digital television. This can also be called as DTVCC transport stream. CEA-708 supports all special characters and thus, captioning can be done in any language.

A detailed differentiation between CEA-608 and 708

CEA-608 Format AnalogCEA-708 Format Digital
It appears in analog broadcastsIt appears in digital broadcasts
Appears in a standard position at the bottom of the screen with a black background in white lettersCan appear anywhere on the screen as long as it complies to FCC guidelines without blocking the essential information on-screen.
It does not include punctuation, noises, or indicate which character is speakingIt includes punctuation, non-speech noises, and they indentify the speaker
Cannot support special characters of alphabets used in other languagesSupports all special characters and alphabets used in most languages
Support 7 languages: French, German, Italian, Dutch, English, Portuguese, SpanishSupports almost all languages
Information can be encrypted via Line 21Information can be encoded via MPEG-2 streams

Closed Captions and Subtitles from CaptioningStar

Looking for an accessibility partner who can support you with CEA- 608 and CEA- 708 Captions?

Without a second thought, hire CaptioningStar for all your captioning needs. We offer you other alternatives for closed captions by extracting CEA- 608 and 708 from h.264 packages. 

Hassle-free television broadcasts that accommodate any caption file format of your choice, like the WebVTT or SRT format that most video players support. 

We also give you several other options to promote and distribute your broadcasted videos. Restream on several other platforms to broaden your audiences. Contact us if you have specific requirements to broadcast your content. We come up with the best solutions, technology, and tools!!!