To view this page ensure that Adobe Flash Player version
11.1.0 or greater is installed.
QC and language-based
tools for captioning
by KJ Kandell, Sr. Director,
Nexidia Media and
W hat are Captions?
Captions (also known as
subtitles) are coded signals that are
sent along with the video and are
decoded at your television or cable
box to provide the audio track of the
programming as white or colored text
over a background. Captions can
be open or closed. Open captions
are always visible while the far
more popular closed captions can
be turned on or off by the viewer.
Captions provide a critical link to
content (particularly news) for people
who are deaf or hard-of-hearing.
For those who don’t speak English,
English-language captions help to
improve comprehension and fluency
while improving literacy skills. And
lastly, a very common and sometimes
overlooked use for captions is in
environments like a restaurant or gym
where the audience can’t hear the
audio but can still read the captions.
W hy is it important to monitor the
presence of close captioning and
In the United States, the National
Association of the Deaf laid out
a list of desires related to closed
captioning, including establishing rules
and minimum standards for closed
captions, requiring continuous monitoring to find and fix problems quickly, and
fines for broadcasters that violate the rules.
The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) took those demands into
consideration and passed the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video
Accessibility Act (CVAA), which made regulated closed captioning the law for
anyone broadcasting content on TV or over IP to viewers in the United States.
Given the aging of the population, the hearing impaired are a significant and
growing part of the viewing public. Statistics in most countries show that
perhaps as much as 10% of people are deaf or hearing impaired. It is important
that everyone have equal access to content.
C ompliance reports – when and why do you need them?
Under TV captioning rules, content distributors must demonstrate their
compliance on a quarterly basis. To do it, they may rely on program sources
— such as networks, producers, or syndicators — to certify that that the
programming is either captioned or exempt. For example, cable operators
may rely on certification from programming networks that the channel is
in compliance with the captioning rules. Similarly, broadcast stations and
programming networks may rely on program producers, syndicators, or
owners to certify that acquired programming is either captioned or exempt
from the rules. If a program source falsely certifies that programming delivered
to the distributor meets the requirements, then the distributor will not be held
responsible (unless the distributor is aware of the false certification).
Otherwise, the burden is on the distributor to prove compliance. Typically
distributors negotiate compliance-demonstration provisions into their carriage
agreements with sources, requiring program networks to certify on a quarterly
basis that their programming is in compliance with the FCC’s captioning
requirements. Because distributors rely on certification from their program
sources, and program sources will be on the hook if they supply a false
compliance report, it is important for everyone in the delivery chain to put
mechanisms in place for verifying compliance and creating the requisite reports
(either manually or automatically). Distributors and sources must maintain their
reports for a certain amount of time in the event that they are called on to prove
W hat is language verification and why is it needed?
The digital assets broadcasters work with are becoming more and more
complex, especially on an international level, where a video asset might have
16 different language tracks. It is important that broadcasters are able to verify
70 | TV-BAY MAGAZINE: ISSUE 79 JULY 2013