Saturday, February 20, 2010

Breaking News: New TV Captioning Complaint Rules In Effect!

On Friday, February 19, 2010, HLAA along with other consumer and industry representatives attended a meeting of the Digital Closed Captioning & Video Description Technical Working Group. This Working Group is hosted by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to tackle the problems consumers have seen with closed captioning in a DTV world.

It has become apparent that some of the problems with captioning on DTV's are complex and difficult to track down and solve, some are not so difficult but need the industry to devote resources to address, and others need input from the FCC to ensure the problems are solved. It was good to hear that the folks at the FCC are determined to make headway to solve these difficult problems.

It appears that one issue is that we don't have enough data to know what all the problems are. One way to address that is for consumers to send in more complaints. Well, it just got easier to complain!

At the Feb 19th meeting, the FCC announced that the rules that had been adopted by the FCC for filing of captioning complaints back in November, 2009, are now in effect. We believe these new rules will help consumers get their captioning problems solved much more quickly than the old rules and allow the FCC and industry to better understand the kind of problems we are seeing and where we are seeing those problems.

Under the new rules:

1. You can contact the program distributor directly. The program distributor is the broadcaster, the cable company, the satellite company or whoever is sending you the television signal. The new rules say that a contact person must be available during hours of operation for broadcasters, cable companies and satellite companies so that you can call or email a real person, and, with any luck, get your problem solved very quickly. This has the potential to be very good for complaints where there is a quick fix, like captions suddenly disappearing during a program. Your program distributor's contact information should be made available on the company's bill or on their website very soon, if it is not there already. After March 22, you can also find the contact information on the FCC's website.

2. You can contact the FCC. The new rules say you can bring your complaint to the attention of the FCC first. The FCC will then send your complaint to the program distributor. Also, you can contact the FCC even after you contacted the program distributor directly, if that problem was not solved. This will be helpful because the FCC will be able to see the kinds of complaints that are coming in, and might even be able to start seeing patterns in our complaints.

3. The rules say you must send in a complaint within 60 days of the captioning problem. And the program distributor will have 30 days to respond after they received the complaint from you or the FCC.

4. You can file your written complaint with the FCC by using the on-line complaint form found at esupport.fcc.gov/complaints.htm?sid=&id=d1e3. You can also file your complaint with the FCC’s Consumer Center by e-mailing fccinfo@fcc.gov; faxing 1-866-418-0232; or writing to:
Federal Communications Commission Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau Consumer Inquiries and Complaints Division 445 12th Street, S.W. Washington, DC 20554

For more information about closed captioning and the complaint process, visit the FCC's website at http://www.fcc.gov/cgb/consumerfacts/closedcaption.html

So, do send your complaints to the FCC. I for one, look forward to the time when we have no complaints to send in!

16 comments:

  1. What does "hours of operation" mean? 9-5 or the time they broadcast? NBC's website has no info on captions as of 2/22/10 morning. All last week NBC failed to provide captioning of commercials during Olympic coverage. Supposedly some kind of technical problem.

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  2. Commercials are not required to be captioned.

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  3. Need to see more commercials with captioning and the ABC network stills needs to fix theirs, the captioning in not in sync with the spoken words, you still cannot read it because it goes by too fast and it is with all their shows. Shame on them it is owned by Disney which should know better.

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  4. I had a successful resolution to a complaint last year. I was watching my college team (Kansas State University Wildcats) play on ESPN and they were constantly referred to in the captions as "Wildfire", even though the announcer was saying "Wildcats". About five minutes after my email the captions were correctly calling my team "Wildcats". I did follow up with another email thanking them for their prompt attention.

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  5. What about lyrics in songs? There's been many shows where they sing songs but leave the caption out on the lyrics. I know we're talking about live TV here, but on a different note, I bought a DVD 'This is It', Michael Jackson and all his songs were NOT captioned at all. I was livid.

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  6. in my area, news captioning is not captioning at all, it is text that the reporter submitted before the broadcast, it does NOT match what is being said and the weather is never captioned. However, in Omaha, the weather and news are both live captioned, what is said is what you see below in the captioning.

    Where can I complain about that? Also, they advertise that "Close captioning is provide by XYZ company". Does the company know that a live captioner is not hired but the company keeps the money and just provides text of the reporters story.

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  7. All to often C-Span Washington Journal the captions are dropped when they post a program note at the page botton when captions are running. I don't understand why it is more important to do program promotion that keep the captions up. This is very annoying when the resource person is answering an important question.

    In general C-Span does a good job with the captions. I have noted lately that when the on screen host is reading from a news source it is not captioned. Sometimes the news copy is projected, but very difficult to read.

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  8. I agree with Jo Ellen Dowler on the songs or music on TV shows as I'll hear the song, but the captions will show only the music symbol or nothing at all, so either the person doing the captions is toooo lazy to type the words to the songs, even if it's just one line from the song or whatever....almost everything should be captioned as I'll hear the words, but again, no captions....as for buying music DVD's, always look on the outside of the box for the CC symbol, if nothing, then it's not captioned...

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  9. Where do we go to suggest improvements? Would this be the service provider? I have many suggestions, changing font size so that we can see the program, move the captions so that we can see subtitling /captions such as people's names. Also agree about songs. I miss being able to hear the lyrics and can't get captioning either.

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  10. In the Metro-Milwaukee area I have noticed that the High Definition channels are just short phrases with much of the conversation missing whereas the the regular broadcast television channels give the entire text of what is being said. This keeps me from enjoying my High definition tvs. I have wondered why the difference?

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  11. Movies I have streamed from Netflix to my computer to my tv are not captioned. To see these movies I need to rent the DVD and have it sent to me through the mail. Can anyone explain why that happens?

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  12. Cablevision of NY is unable to broadcast HBO channel 82/800 with closed caption intact. They also do not broadcast other stations in CC although the program guides states it is available in CC

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  13. All these are worthy comments. I'll echo the DVD purchasing issue from Jo Ellen above. In Dec 2008, I viewed David Foster and Friends on Public TV and was excited that such a wonderful program was captioned; I ordered a DVD thinking I could watch it again, captioned. No such luck! While getting some of these laws changed, can we work with Public Television to make sure this never happens again AND ask the FCC to prevent selling a different product than what is aired. An UN-captioned product is completely different than a captioned one to a hearing-impaired viewer who needs those captions. And all they had to do was add captioning before making the DVDs. It felt like bait and switch.

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  14. Hello, it seems to me that captioning on television is getting more and more lax on timing as well as accuracy. I personally believe many captioners either think they are only captioning for the deaf, or no one will care if they don't caption what is either said last or when a commercial is coming on. This is really awful when time after time the "punch lines" are just left out. Maybe they would understand how hard it is when you are just "hard of hearing" (rather than unable to hear any script), trying to read captions that are always a couple of minutes behind the voices, when you read lips AND are trying to keep up with the action at the same time! There are thousands of people watching for every word to be given them when they can't have it loud enough or have blown out enough speakers to try to hear the sounds. Please let them know somehow that we appreciate every effort they make on our behalf(s)!

    Another pet peeve---when tv programs say they are "closed captioned", even showing the sponsor, and no captions are shown. I even have a specific example of this---the movie "Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa" a Disney movie, (on a few days ago on FX136 on Dish) said it was "CC" but no captions the whole movie. Unfortunately, it is next to impossible to read the lips of cartoon characters, so when everyone else is laughing, I am looking around at nothing. Not fun...Anything you can do to perk up the efforts at real-time, accurate and caring captions is much, MUCH appreciated!!!!!!thanks for listening---

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  15. At the risk of irritating everyone reading here, I want to add that I went to the FCC site to file a complaint on captioning, and the complaint page was so long and complicated, I gave up and just sent my message to HLAA. I have education above college level, so that should tell you how accessible that process is!! Thanks again.

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