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Tacoma bars that don’t provide closed captioning may be hit with fines

(File photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

Staring at muted sports in bars and restaurants during awkward breaks in the conversation is practically a pastime in America, and many find themselves sometimes reading the captions too. It passes the time.

It turns out those closed captions will now be mandatory in Tacoma. Bars, restaurants and other venues that don’t leave them on may be in line for quite the fine under a new city of Tacoma compliance law, reports The News Tribune. Under the new fee structure, businesses who fail to press the little CC button on television remotes could face a $100 fine the first day, and another $100 each day until $500.

Is it necessary to fine bars if closed captioning isn’t on TVs?

Upon approval, the ordinance would go into effect in March, with the city creating a $15,000 education campaign to inform those who may be impacted.

Why the need? City officials say it’s to provide communication access to those who are hearing impaired when they’re in such public places, as well as senior citizens, those with learning disabilities, and people learning English. Similar closed captioning enforcement ordinances were passed in April in Seattle, and Portland four years ago.

Georgetown bar owner: Closed captioning will send patrons out of Seattle

“What our city is saying through this ordinance is that you all belong, you are all visible, and we want to accommodate all of you,” city policy analyst Lucas Smiraldo told the City Council.

Whether this stretches to cover brightness and contrast settings too remains to be seen.

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