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QUESTIONING QC and language-based tools for captioning by KJ Kandell, Sr. Director, Product Management, Nexidia Media and Entertainment Division 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 language captioning? 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 their compliance. 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 TV-BAY079JUL13.indd 70 09/07/2013 16:52