Report text available as:

(PDF provides a complete and accurate display of this text.) Tip?

108th Congress                                                   Report
 2d Session                                                     108-399




                October 11, 2004.--Ordered to be printed


       Mr. McCain, from the Committee on Commerce, Science, and 
                Transportation, submitted the following

                              R E P O R T

                         [To accompany S. 480]

    The Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, to 
which was referred the bill (S. 480) to provide competitive 
grants for training court reporters and closed captioners to 
meet requirements for realtime writers under the 
Telecommunications Act of 1996, and for other purposes, having 
considered the same, reports favorably thereon without 
amendment with amendments deg. with an 
amendment (in the nature of a substitute) deg. and recommends 
that the bill joint resolution deg. (as 
amended) deg. do pass.

                          PURPOSE OF THE BILL

    The primary objective of this legislation is to allow 
funding to be made available for the purpose of training real-
time writers qualified to provide captioning services.

                          BACKGROUND AND NEEDS

    There are over 28 million deaf or hard-of-hearing Americans 
who rely on closed captioning to get news and other vital 
information. Closed captioning also opens the world to the deaf 
and hard-of-hearing by allowing them to interact and 
participate in civic and personal events. Further, an 
additional 72 million Americans benefit from closed captioning 
including remedial readers, young children learning to read, 
and individuals learning English as a second language.
    When Congress passed the Telecommunications Act of 1996 it 
required that all video programming distributors provide 100 
percent captioned video programming by 2006 for all nonexempt 
programming created after 1998. The National Court Reporters 
Association has estimated that up to 3,000 English language 
captioners will be needed to fulfill the 100 percent 
requirement. Currently there are about 300 captioners who can 
consistently write 180 words per minute with an accuracy rate 
of at least 98.5 percent for over 1,700 television stations in 
the United States. This legislation would assist in fulfilling 
the Congressional requiasrement.

                          LEGISLATIVE HISTORY

    On February 27, 2003, Senator Harkin introduced S. 480, the 
``Training for Realtime Writers Act of 2003''. The bill has 45 
cosponsors. One other bill relating to the funding for real-
time writers has been introduced during the 108th Congress. The 
bill is H.R. 970, introduced by Representative Kind and 
cosponsored by 131 members of the House of Representatives.
    On September 22, 2004, the Committee met in Executive 
Session and voted to report the bill favorably to the full 

                            ESTIMATED COSTS

    In accordance with paragraph 11(a) of rule XXVI of the 
Standing Rules of the Senate and section 403 of the 
Congressional Budget Act of 1974, the Committee provides the 
following cost estimate, prepared by the Congressional Budget 

                                     U.S. Congress,
                               Congressional Budget Office,
                                Washington, DC, September 28, 2004.
Hon. John McCain,
Chairman, Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, U.S. 
        Senate, Washington, DC.
    Dear Mr. Chairman: The Congressional Budget Office has 
prepared the enclosed cost estimate for S. 480, the Training 
for Realtime Writers Act of 2003.
    If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be 
pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contact is Susanne 
                                      Elizabeth M. Robinson
                               (For Douglas Holtz-Eakin, Director.)

S. 480--Training for Realtime Writers Act of 2003

    Summary: CBO estimates that implementing this legislation 
would cost $40 million over the next five years, assuming the 
appropriation of the authorized amounts. The funds would be 
used by the National Telecommunications and Information 
Administration (NTIA) to provide grants to entities that train 
court reporters, including court reporters who have completed 
training programs for realtime writers. The grants would be 
used to promote training and job placement for such 
    Enacting this bill would not affect direct spending or 
revenues. S. 480 contains no intergovernmental or private-
sector mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act 
(UMRA); any costs to state, local, or tribal governments would 
result from complying with conditions of federal assistance.
    Estimated cost to the Federal Government: The estimated 
budgetary impact of S. 480 is shown in the following table. For 
this estimate, CBO assumes that $20 million authorized to be 
appropriated for both 2005 and 2006 will be appropriated and 
that outlays will follow historical trends for similar 
programs. The costs of this legislation fall within budget 
function 370 (commerce and housing credit).

                                                                       By fiscal year, in millions of dollars--
                                                                       2005     2006     2007     2008     2009
                                  CHANGES IN SPENDING SUBJECT TO APPROPRIATION

Authorization Level................................................       20       20        0        0        0
Estimated Outlays..................................................        2       11       14        9        4

    Intergovernmental and private-sector impact: S. 480 
contains no intergovernmental or private-sector mandates as 
defined in UMRA; any costs to state, local, or tribal 
governments would result from complying with conditions of 
federal assistance.
    Estimate prepared by: Federal Costs: Susanne S. Mehlman; 
Impact on State, Local, and Tribal Governments: Sarah Puro; 
Impact on the Private Sector: Jean Talarico.
    Estimate approved by: Peter H. Fontaine, Deputy Assistant 
Director for Budget Analysis.


    In accordance with paragraph 11(b) of rule XXVI of the 
Standing Rules of the Senate, the Committee provides the 
following evaluation of the regulatory impact of the 
legislation, as reported:

Number of persons covered

    The legislation provides an authorization of appropriations 
for the fiscal years 2004, 2005, 2006 and makes funds available 
for fiscal year 2007 to enable the National Telecommunications 
and Information Administration (NTIA) to provide grants to fund 
educational programs to train real-time writers. This bill will 
affect more then 28,000,000 deaf or hard of hearing individuals 
as well as 72,000,000 individuals who use closed captioning 

Economic impact

    Section 7 of this bill authorizes appropriations of $20 
million for fiscal years 2004, 2005, 2006 and makes funds 
available for 2007.


    This legislation will not have any adverse impact on the 
personal privacy of the individuals affected.


    S. 480 would require each eligible entity receiving grants 
to submit to the NTIA a report describing the use of grant 
amounts and the effectiveness of activities aimed at increasing 
the number of real-time writers. The bill also would require a 
final report by each entity receiving grants on best practices 
for increasing the number of individuals who are trained, 
employed, and retained in employment as real-time writers.

                      SECTION-BY-SECTION ANALYSIS

Section 1. Short title

    Section 1 would provide that the bill may be cited as the 
``Training for Realtime Writers Act of 2003''.

Section 2. Findings

    Section 2 sets forth Congressional findings on the need for 
closed captioning services. The findings detail the history of 
the Federal Communications Commission's adopted rules requiring 
closed-captioning and its accompanying studies that demonstrate 
the benefit that affected people receive from closed captioning 

Section 3. Authorization of grant program to promote training and job 
        placement of realtime writers

    Section 3 would authorize the NTIA to provide grants to 
accredited educational institutions. Grants would be for a 
period of two years and not exceed $1.5 million.

Section 4. Application

    Section 4 would provide information on the application 
process to receive a grant from NTIA.

Section 5. Use of funds

    Section 5 would set forth the requirements for the use of 
funds for entities receiving grants. Grants would be used for 
recruitment, training and assistance, and job placement for 
individuals who have completed a court reporting training 

Section 6. Reports

    Section 6 would require each entity receiving a grant to 
provide a report to NTIA, at the end of each year of the grant 

Section 7. Authorization of appropriations

    Section 7 would authorize $20,000,000 for each of fiscal 
years 2004, 2005, 2006, and make funds available if necessary 
for fiscal year 2007.

                        CHANGES IN EXISTING LAW

    In compliance with paragraph 12 of rule XXVI of the 
Standing Rules of the Senate, the Committee states that the 
bill as reported would make no change to existing law.