North American Closed Captioning Requirements


Closed Captioning can be supplied as embedded data or as a sidecar caption file.
Merging sidecar files (e.g., SCC, SRT) with media files are subject to an additional per-spot merge fee and will incur a slight delay in processing time.

Technical Requirements

  • CEA-608 is the required track. CEA-708 is recommended to include. However, it is optional, as ER will automatically derive 708 from 608.
  • The first caption block is preferred to be the caption type “Paint-On” and must occur on or after the fifth frame of content (00:00:07:04).
  • If you must use the caption type "Pop-On" for the first text block, it must occur on or after the first second of the advertisement (00:00:08:00).
  • Files must have a frame rate of 23.98 fps, 29.97 fps or 59.94 fps.
  • The closed captioning text background must be black and opaque. Transparent backgrounds are not accepted.
  • The final caption’s display time must not exceed the content duration and contain a last out-time code at the end of the file.
  • If a spot is closed captioned, it must be indicated in the metadata and should be included on the slate.
  • All spots intended for broadcast in Canada must contain closed captioning.

General Requirements

  • Captions should always have at least one second of display time to avoid timing errors that cause improper display.
  • The first worded caption should be one line only, if possible. If two lines are necessary, make sure to give enough time for it to build and display.
  • Allow a minimum of 1.5 seconds duration for 2-line captions.
  • Allow a minimum of 2 seconds duration to display 3-line captions.
  • Use sentence case text for all captions. Uppercase text is considered SHOUTING!
  • Do not use bold text in captions; some decoders will display this as blinking text.
  • Speaker identifiers are only necessary if the speaker is not on screen or is unrecognizable.
  • Italics are often reserved for voice-over instead of identifying “Announcer:” in the captions.
  • Avoid covering existing supers and logos with captions.
  • Break long sentences into multiple captions for faster reading comprehension according to grammatical breaks and natural phrasing.
  • Descriptions of music or sound effects are not mandatory but should be included if they are deemed essential to understanding the plot or subject matter of the content.

Common Reasons Why Captions Are Rejected

  • Timing issues with first or last captions typically cause a failure to decode.
  • Captions cover supers, logos or legal text.
  • Spelling and grammatical errors.
  • Lagging captions or captions not in sync by more than two seconds.
  • Captions do not appear.
  • Missing words in captions.
  • Captions do not match audio content.
  • Transparent background on text.

Notes for Adobe Premiere

Video Tutorial

  • Do not copy text from formatted documents. Use plain text formatting only.
  • Under Essential Graphics, turn off Smart Quotes to resolve decoding issues with apostrophes.
  • Caption text must be aligned center, and blocks must be positioned center.
  • Text positioning may be top, bottom or center, but always center-justified.
  • 608 and 708 tracks must share the same caption type (“paint-on” / “pop-on”) when implementing both streams.
  • Do not exceed 26 characters per line.
  • The caption background must be changed from transparent to opaque.
  • The suggested font type is Arial.
  • Save the Track Style once created for all projects.
  • MOV files only support 608 caption data.
  • MXF OP1a supports both 608 and 708 caption data.

Additional Resources

FCC Guidelines for Closed Captioning

CRTC Closed Captioning Standards and Protocol Documents

Caption vendors are responsible for quality control of the files they submit, so please ensure the above guidelines are adhered to. Failure to follow these guidelines may result in files being rejected or processed slowly by the Extreme Reach platform.

Some types of errors may be corrected by Extreme Reach for an additional cost. Please ask your Video Account Manager for details.


Any questions?

Contact us at or 800.324.5672 for a more personal discussion regarding your workflow and needs.


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