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How to File a Consumer Complaint Regarding Closed Captioning

What happens if you are watching your favorite program and the closed captioning drops halfway through or the timing is so slow or fast that it doesn’t match the audio? Perhaps you also noticed a high number of errors in the closed captioning. Or maybe the closed captioning happened to be covering a speaker’s face or an important on-screen graphic? What can you do? The first thing to realize is that you as a consumer have the power to make a difference! If you are unsatisfied with the quality of captioning on a particular station or program, you can help remedy the problem. Continue reading

Increasing Your National Viewership with Spanish Captions: An Insider Secret

One of the main goals of every producer is to try to reach the maximum amount of viewers every time their program airs. Apart from engaging content, time slots, and targeting the right regions, there is one simple thing EVERY producer can do. In this article, we will discuss why including Spanish captions are so important, how they work, and who is doing it. Continue reading

FCC Pushes Back the Date on New Captioning Quality Standards

We’ve all been there at one time in our life, certainly in our teenage years. Your teacher told you months ago that there would be a major exam at semester’s end and has given you ample time and resources to prepare. But we all just love to wait until the last minute. Maybe the week before, or sometimes the night before. We frantically thumb through stacks of articles, highlighter in hand, trying to absorb as much information as humanly possible in that 24-hour span and work through the night repeating the mantra, “I’ll sleep tomorrow.” If you’re having flashbacks of those days with the FCC’s proposed due date for the new closed captioning quality standards less than 24 hours away, then you can relax and breathe.

Prompted by the Public Notice put out by the FCC, we reached out and confirmed with Eliot Greenwald (Attorney-Advisor, Disability Rights Office) at the FCC that the new firm date for these new caption quality standards will be March 16, 2015. The decision to push the deadline back two months came down to a few uncertainties hanging out there. Moreover, they had found that there was a general lack of informed and prepared Video Programmers (VPs) and Video Program Distributors (VPDs) because the material hasn’t been aggressively presented to everyone. Continue reading

FCC Addresses Closed Captioning Placement

Effective January 15, 2015 (Update: FCC Pushes Back the Date on New Captioning Quality Standards), the FCC Report and Order (CG docket No. 05-231) requires all closed captioning to be “properly placed.” The new regulation states: Captioning shall be view-able and shall not block other important visual content on the screen, including, but not limited to, character faces, featured text (e.g., weather or other news updates, graphics and credits), and other information that is essential to understanding a program’s content when the closed captioning feature is activated. Continue reading

FCC Addresses Closed Captioning Completeness

Effective January 15, 2015 (Update: FCC Pushes Back the Date on New Captioning Quality Standards), the FCC Report and Order (CG docket No. 05-231) requires all closed captioning to be “complete.” The new guideline states: Captioning shall run from the beginning to the end of the program, to the fullest extent possible.

The Northern Virginia Resource Center for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Persons reports multiple complaints relating to programs where captions disappeared, failed to appear, or concluded before the end of the program. The NVRC mentions the following examples of complaints from consumers: “…the first episode of [a] CNN series on the Cold War with incoherent captions, an Antique Road Show that inexplicably had no captions, an episode of Friends with captions that ended just a few minutes into the program, [the] complete absence of captioning from Hallmark Channel for weeks, and an episode of Six Feet Under that lost captions after 20 minutes.”

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FCC Addresses Closed Captioning Synchronicity

“Does my closed captioning meet the new synchronicity requirement?” The FCC Report and Order (CG docket No. 05-231) states the following regarding closed captioning synchronicity:

Captioning shall coincide with the corresponding spoken words and sounds to the greatest extent possible, given the type of the programming. Captions shall begin to appear at the time that the corresponding speech or sounds begin and end approximately when the speech or sounds end. Captions shall be displayed on the screen at a speed that permits them to be read by viewers.

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FCC Addresses Closed Captioning Accuracy

What does the FCC Report and Order (CG docket No. 05-231) mean when it states that closed captioning needs to be accurate? Hasn’t this always been a requirement? Well, not exactly. Previously, there were regulations simply stating that closed captioning was required. However, without addressing quality, closed captioning varied in regards to accuracy. Even without closed captioning accuracy regulations enforced from 2009 to 2013, the Commission received 2,323 viewer complaints on general closed captioning issues. A dubious representation of the actual problem since, until now, there really was no motivation for the viewers to voice their concerns.

In a few weeks, all post-production closed captioning of video programming must be captioned by an offline caption editor. This offline or post-production captioner is trained on various captioning rules, such as correct punctuation and spelling, synchronicity, caption placement, reading speed, etc. In the past, a live captioning style (writing with a steno machine and paraphrasing the spoken word) could be used for post-produced programs even though they were not actually airing in a live format. However, come January 15, 2015 (Update: FCC Pushes Back the Date on New Captioning Quality Standards), this will no longer be acceptable.

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New FCC Closed Captioning Laws to Focus on Quality

The deadline of January 15, 2015 (Update: FCC Pushes Back the Date on New Captioning Quality Standards) is quickly approaching as the FCC closed captioning laws will begin weighing in on some much needed quality issues. Aberdeen Broadcast Services is here to help break down the new FCC Report and Order that was released earlier this year (CG docket No. 05-231) into easy-to-understand and concise guidelines. Our goal is to help producers enter the New Year confident that their programs are in compliance with the new FCC closed captioning requirements.

The FCC issued its first set of closed captioning requirements over sixteen years ago in order to provide telecommunications for the deaf and hard of hearing. The objective was to ensure that all Americans have access to video programming. Mandating that programs had closed captions was a great start at accessibility, but quality control was the next step as the original rules were fairly basic–closed captioning needed to be present on the screen. Now, the FCC has adopted captioning quality standards and technical compliance rules to certify that the quality of captions best replicate the experience of television programs for all audiences.

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Voice-Over vs. Dubbing: Two Sides of the Same Tone

If you’ve ever watched an old noir film—the ones where the troubled narrator rambles on about his dire circumstances in worried existential grief—then you’re probably familiar with voice-over. Employed through various ways in cinema, for which it’s garnered iconicism in pop culture today, the technique actually has a more common, practical use in day-to-day news and radio.

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The Writing’s on the Glass: Instant Captions for Daily Interactions

What if captioning wasn’t limited to multimedia and entertainment mediums and could transcend, by way of tech devices, into day-to-day interactions with others? It’s what app developers at Georgia Tech are trying to accomplish—real-time captions of real-life conversations. The question is, does it really work?

Some are calling it “instant captions” – a concept rarely synonymous with accuracy (except when real-time captioners are involved). All you need is a smart phone and Google Glass (the Explorer model goes for a measly $1,500). One need only speak into a smartphone microphone, and the app turns spoken dialogue into a transcript. That transcript is converted into captions displayed on the user’s glassware. There’s a slight delay, but the auditory features of Glass appear accurate and (arguably) promising.

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