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Old 02-12-2004, 08:47 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Closed captioning not provided by...

http://www.palmbeachpost.com/opinion...c624b0099.html

Censor 'Scooby-Doo'? Words fail

By Dan Moffett, Palm Beach Post Editorial Writer
Sunday, February 8, 2004

The Bush administration has decided that people with bad hearing have bad judgment, too, and need special guidance from the federal government.

So the U.S. Department of Education is declaring about 200 television programs inappropriate for closed-captioning and denying federal grant requests to make them accessible to the hearing-impaired.

The department made its decisions based on the recommendations of a five-member panel. Who the five members are, only the government seems to know, and it isn't saying. But the shows they censored suggest a perspective that is Talibanesque.

The government is refusing to caption Bewitched and I Dream of Jeannie, apparently fearing that the deaf would fall prey to witchcraft if they viewed the classic sitcoms.

Your government also believes that Law & Order is too intense for the hard-of-hearing. So is Power Rangers. You can rest easy knowing that your federal tax dollars aren't being spent to promote Sanford and Son, Judge Wapner's Animal Court and The Loretta Young Show within the deaf community. Kids with hearing problems can forget about watching Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, classic cartoons or Nickelodeon features. Even Roy Rogers and Robin Hood are out.

Sports programming took a heavy hit, too. The government has decided that people with hearing problems don't need to watch NASCAR, Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association, the National Football League or Professional Golf Association tournaments.

The National Association of the Deaf says the government used to caption these shows but abruptly changed course, deciding that the shows don't fit the required definition of "educational, news or informational" programming.

"They've suddenly narrowed down the definition of those three kinds of programming without public input," says Kelby Brick, director of the NAD's law and advocacy center. "Basically, the department wants to limit captioning to puritan shows. The department wants to ensure that deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals are not exposed to any non-puritan programming. Never mind that the rest of the country is allowed to be exposed."

How imperiled the nation might be if The Simpsons and Malcolm in the Middle reached into the living rooms of the impressionable hard-of-hearing. Or, for that matter, Scooby-Doo.

The censorship raises baffling questions about who gets in and who's left out. The government has rejected Nancy Drew but is accepting Andy Hardy. Cory the Clown has won approval, but the Cisco Kid is toast. Charlie Rose and Rod Serling are worthy of captions, but Catherine Crier and Dominick Dunne aren't. Go figure.

The Department of Education is refusing to reveal the names of the panel members whose opinions determined the caption grants and also won't disclose the new guidelines. By every appearance, the government has changed its definition of what constitutes a caption-worthy program. But it's keeping the new rules secret.

"They apparently used a panel of five individuals and then made the censorship decisions based on the individuals' recommendations," Mr. Brick says. "We have found the identity of one of the panelists. This individual tells us that he never knew he was on such a panel and that his views would be used for censorship. No panel was convened. The five panelists were contacted individually and separately."

It could be that people with bad hearing are new casualties of the Bush administration's budget priorities. Paying the Halliburton bills and sending a man to Mars will be costly, perhaps equally so. It could be that missing Bewitched and Law & Order is just one sacrifice the deaf will have to make to advance homeland security and fight terrorism.

The education department makes promises about "No Child Left Behind," but it didn't say anything about leaving behind people with bad hearing. Maybe they should have seen this coming.

The NAD is lobbying Congress to change the policy. Some networks and sponsors are stepping in and providing captions for some of the "inappropriate" shows. But the government's dismissive treatment of 28 million Americans defies words.

"We are outraged the department has taken paternalistic steps to exclude deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals," Mr. Brick says. "Such censorship is offensive and insulting."

--------------

I'd be interested to see which programs do qualify as "educational, news, and information" programming.

Do you think this is this actual censorship? What responsibility does the government have to ensure access to a broad spectrum of programming? (Having grown up in rural Minnesota with two channels - CBS and PBS - I both sympathize with people who want access to more programming, but don't feel this is necessarily worth making a big fuss about.)

Seems like they (the dept of education) could save themselves a lot of trouble if they'd 1. make their guidelines public, and 2. empower a broader panel made up of deaf people to choose which shows are most important to them.
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Old 02-12-2004, 09:16 AM   #2 (permalink)
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I'm surprised there is a government subsidy at all for closed-captioning. I know that when I deliver a program to a broadcaster I am responsible for providing the captioning.

As to the question of what should be subsidized... Programs on PBS and public access. Period.

Commerical broadcasters should have to pay for this sort of thing. A law should be enacted that all commercial broadcasts will provide closed captioning and the broadcasters and their production/distribtion partners should cover this cost.
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Last edited by Charlatan; 02-12-2004 at 09:19 AM..
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Old 02-12-2004, 10:28 AM   #3 (permalink)
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There is this stupid stupid belief that anyone handicapped isn't depraved, twisted, dirty, perverted, and fucked up as any person with all regular faculties. It's like they're expected to be more moral or something becuase they aren't "normal". I've never understood it. If I was deaf I would still be a huge perv like I am now .

and how can CC be so expensive? I can download films with home made subtitles. You think those ppl spent any money tlating those things? It's just another signal down the pipe. Stupid.
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Old 02-12-2004, 12:10 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I think there has to be more to this story. Yes, I do feel that the government has to make some cuts here and there to keep our budget in line. I think this Dan Moffett guy found a way to make budget cuts look like the government is bashing the deaf/hard of hearing. Everyone seems to be looking for reasons to take a completely simple situation and making it into a Bush bashing festival. Granted, I think the Bush Administration has had a rough time in office, and I think they will continue to have to make tough decisions. I just think this is an over sensationalized piece of journalism.
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Old 02-12-2004, 12:22 PM   #5 (permalink)
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It isn't hugely expensive. It costs about $1000 to do the captioning on a 90 minute movie.

Where it gets expensive is when you have a live show (you need a trained person with fast typing) or when you have a series (22 one hour episodes of The West Wing, for example, could cost anywhere from $15,000 to $20,000).

The price has nothing to do with the signal. It has everything to do with the labour involved in creating the captions.
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Old 02-12-2004, 12:24 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by Charlatan
I'm surprised there is a government subsidy at all for closed-captioning. I know that when I deliver a program to a broadcaster I am responsible for providing the captioning.

As to the question of what should be subsidized... Programs on PBS and public access. Period.

Commerical broadcasters should have to pay for this sort of thing. A law should be enacted that all commercial broadcasts will provide closed captioning and the broadcasters and their production/distribtion partners should cover this cost.
I'm not 100% but there's a law about CC content being X% by 200X. I'm searching for it, but I know that we pay for live closed captioning and also for MTV Network shows.
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Old 02-12-2004, 12:36 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by Cynthetiq
I'm not 100% but there's a law about CC content being X% by 200X. I'm searching for it, but I know that we pay for live closed captioning and also for MTV Network shows.
Are the videos CC'd? I remember checking for this the first time I got a TV with CC capability (circa 1994), but I haven't checked recently.
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Old 02-12-2004, 01:10 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Viacom has only been closed captioning the minimum requirements because it's what the law allows. I've actually seen a new system called VIDEO DESCRIPTION which is supposed to be like CC but for the blind, where there is audio of someone telling them what is on the screen.
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Old 02-12-2004, 01:24 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Not including Roy Roger is un-american! Someone will pay, mark my words.
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Old 02-12-2004, 01:40 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Its amazing how short sighted the government can be when it's looking at "what is moral and right". They do show that they know where to hit.. This almost passed under the radar.. thankfully it was 'almost'
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Old 02-12-2004, 01:56 PM   #11 (permalink)
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from the FCC.gov website

Quote:
Background
Closed captioning is an assistive technology designed to provide access to television for persons with hearing disabilities. Through captioning, the audio portion of programming is displayed as text superimposed over the video. In 1990, Congress first required television receivers to contain circuitry designed to decode and display closed captioning. As of July 1993, the Commission has required that all analog television sets with screens 13 inches or larger sold in the United States contain built-in decoder circuitry that allows viewers to display closed captions. Beginning July 1, 2002, the Commission also required that digital television (DTV) receivers include closed caption display capability.

As part of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, Congress instructed the Commission to require video program distributors (cable operators, broadcasters, satellite distributors and other multi- channel video programming distributors) to phase in closed captioning of their television programs. In 1997, the FCC implemented rules to provide a transition schedule for video program distributors to follow in providing more captioned programming. The rules require that distributors provide an increasing amount of captioned programming according to a set schedule.

Benefits of Closed Captioning

Closed captions provide a critical link to news, entertainment, and information for individuals who are deaf and hard of hearing, enabling these individuals to be part of the cultural mainstream of our society. For individuals whose native language is not English, English language captions have also been used to improve comprehension and fluency in this language. In addition, studies have shown that captions have helped children learn to read, and have improved literacy skills. Viewers may select to watch closed captions through their remote controls or on-screen displays. The FCC does not require captioning of home videos or video games.

New Programming

All English language programming prepared or formatted for display on analog television and first shown on or after January 1, 1998, as well as programming prepared or formatted for display on digital television that was first published or exhibited after July 1, 2002 ("digital programming"), is considered "New Programming," and must be captioned according to benchmarks set by the FCC. The following benchmarks establish how much "New Programming" must be captioned each calendar quarter:

January 1, 2000 to December 31, 2001: 450 hours of programming per channel per quarter
January 1, 2002 to December 31, 2003: 900 hours of programming per channel per quarter
January 1, 2004 to December 31, 2005: 1350 hours of programming per channel per quarter
January 1, 2006 and thereafter: 100% of all programming, with some exemptions

Pre-Rule Programming

Analog programming first shown before January 1, 1998 and digital programming first shown before July 1, 2002, is called "Pre-Rule Programming." Pre-Rule Programming must be captioned as follows:

January 1, 2003 to December 31, 2007: 30% of programming per channel per quarter
January 1, 2008 and thereafter: 75% of programming per channel per quarter

Spanish Language Programming

Because captioning is fairly new to Spanish language program providers, the FCC has provided a longer time period for compliance by these programmers. All new Spanish language programming that was first shown after January 1, 1998, must be captioned by 2010. The following schedule applies to Spanish language "New Programming" shown after January 1, 1998:

January 1, 2001 to December 31, 2003: 450 hours of programming per channel per quarter
January 1, 2004 to December 31, 2006: 900 hours of programming per channel per quarter
January 1, 2007 to December 31, 2009: 1350 hours of programming per channel per quarter
January 1, 2010 and thereafter: 100% of all programming, with some exemptions

For Spanish language "Pre-Rule Programming" first shown before January 1, 1998, the following schedule applies:

January 1, 2005 to December 31, 2011: 30% of programming per channel per quarter
January 1, 2012 and thereafter: 75% of programming per channel per quarter

Exemptions

There are some exemptions to the above captioning requirements (for both English and Spanish language programming). Examples include but are not limited to the following:

most programs which are shown between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m. local time;

locally produced and distributed non-news programming with no repeat value (e.g., parades and school sports);

commercials that are no more than five minutes long;

instructional programming that is locally produced by public television stations for use in grades K-12 and post secondary schools (only covers programming narrowly distributed to individual educational institutions); programs in languages other than English or Spanish;

programs shown on new networks for the first four years of the network's operations;

public service announcements and promotional announcements that are shorter than 10 minutes, unless they are federally-funded or produced; and

programming provided by program providers with annual gross revenues under $3 million (although such programmers must pass through video programming that has already been captioned).

In addition, a video programming provider or distributor may file with the FCC a petition for an exemption for specific programming if supplying captions for that programming would result in an undue burden for the provider or distributor.
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Old 02-12-2004, 02:00 PM   #12 (permalink)
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I think this has more to do with cutting the budget than censoring what deaf and hard of hearing can see...
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Old 02-12-2004, 04:08 PM   #13 (permalink)
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And the conflict has more to do with the process than anything else. Why so secretive?
I'm not really as interested in the identities of the "panel" as I am in the criteria under which they were chosen and the methods of data collection.
(quote)
"They apparently used a panel of five individuals and then made the censorship decisions based on the individuals' recommendations," Mr. Brick says. "We have found the identity of one of the panelists. This individual tells us that he never knew he was on such a panel and that his views would be used for censorship. No panel was convened. The five panelists were contacted individually and separately."
(unquote)

No debate or exchange of ideas? How were these individuals selected? By whom?

Despite the fact that I feel that closed captioning should be funded by the broadcaster in return for the privilege of using the public airwaves, I believe that the Dept of Ed was way out of line in its conduct on this issue.
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Old 02-12-2004, 05:55 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Completely retarded. Allow the rest of the population to see it?
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Old 02-12-2004, 06:25 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Yet they caption Jerry Springer ...
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Old 02-12-2004, 06:47 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Not to derail, but Judge Wapner's Animal Court?? What the hell is that?
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Old 02-12-2004, 06:47 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by Kaos
Not to derail, but Judge Wapner's Animal Court?? What the hell is that?
Sounds like the greatest show on earth
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Old 02-12-2004, 08:47 PM   #18 (permalink)
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WHA?!?!?!?!? OK, that's it, the tv's going out the window. Well, maybe if I'm still mad as hell in an hour. I'm deaf, and I know that if there are not captions, I can forget trying to actually understand all of a show.

I did a quick google search to refresh my memory, regarding captioning laws, and found this affirmation from the US House of Legislatures.
http://www.usdoj.gov/crt/foia/tal400.txt


It's a long read, but the pertinent section seems to be as follows:

At least four Federal requirements deal with the provision
of closed captioning: titles II, III, and IV of the Americans
with Disabilities Act (ADA), and section 504 of the
Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended.

With regard to commercial operations, the title III
regulation, section 36.307, p. 35598, does not require that
video-tape rental establishments stock closed-captioned video
tapes, although the most recent offerings in those establishments
are, in fact, closed-captioned. Further discussion of this point
can be found on p. 35571 of the title III regulation.

Movie theaters are not required by title III to present
open-captioned films. However, other public accommodations that
impart verbal information through soundtracks on films, video
tapes, or slide shows are required to make such information
accessible to persons with hearing impairments. Captioning is
one means to make information accessible to individuals with
disabilities. This concept is explained on page 35567 of the
title III regulation.

Title IV of the ADA requires that any televised public
service announcements that are wholly or partially funded by the
Federal government include closed captioning of the verbal
content of the announcement. However, individual television
stations are not required to supply the closed captioning for any
announcements that do not include closed captioning. For more
information on this requirement, please contact the Federal
Communications Commission, the agency responsible for
implementing and enforcing title IV.

***************

It is expensive to try and caption stuff... I had a friend who attempted to make a closed captioned version of southpark for me, and it literally took him a couple days to make the first minute of dialogue, because all the timing is based off the beginning of the show or broadcast.

The federal grants are a way for companies to get the government to help alleviate the costs of the captioning, but there are many more entities than are dollars available to give out.
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Old 02-13-2004, 06:58 AM   #19 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by amonkie
It is expensive to try and caption stuff... I had a friend who attempted to make a closed captioned version of southpark for me, and it literally took him a couple days to make the first minute of dialogue, because all the timing is based off the beginning of the show or broadcast.

The federal grants are a way for companies to get the government to help alleviate the costs of the captioning, but there are many more entities than are dollars available to give out.
people who caption things don't use a normal keyboard, they don't use the normal video playback systems that most people have in their homes.

while it is expensive to do initially getting all the equipment etc, it actually doesn't cost that much to have a closed caption person add it offline vs. realtime which can be a bit more expensive but truly NOT cost prohibitive.
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