Captioning Complications, Causes, and Correction

Millions of Americans utilize closed captions every day. In addition to providing equal access to the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, they’re used in public establishments such as airports, restaurants, bars, and gyms.Realtime captions are created by skilled steno captioners on live events, such as the news, or sporting events.

According to the FCC Caption Quality Best Practices, any prerecorded programming must have prerecorded captions, and these captions are created well in advance of the program’s first broadcast on television.

VITAC complies with all FCC Caption Quality Best Practices for accuracy, synchronicity, completeness, and placement.

But what should you do if you see errors in your closed captioning hindering your experience and understanding of the program?

If you’re seeing no captions (and you know you’ve turned them on), garbled captions (strange characters and misspellings), delayed captions, or captions dropping off in the middle of sentences, this could very well be a transmission error. Another type and most common transmission-related error is called a paired error. This occurs when two letters or characters are dropped out in repeated intervals.

During some programs, errors aren’t as severe and it’s still easy to figure out the context:

>> I WALKED DOWN THE STREET.

becomes:

>> I WALK DO THE STREET.

But with others, it’s nearly impossible:

>> I WALKED DOWN THE STREET.

becomes:

>> I WKED DOWTH STRT.

A great example of this was in the recent GOP Presidential debate, where to most of the country, the captions appeared error-free, as they were written. However, wherever the author of this article was watching, they appeared with pairing and transmission problems: technical errors, not mistakes of the captioner, on who the mistakes were erroneously blamed.

If one of these issues is occurring, contact your Video Programming Distributor(VPD) – cable provider, broadcaster, or satellite provider immediately, as it is their responsibility to ensure that captions pass through correctly. Their captioning contact will be located somewhere on your cable bill or listed online here.

For any non-immediate closed captioning issue, you may also file a written complaint with your VPD, or directly with the FCC.

While full-length IP-delivered content must be captioned if it aired on television, content on Subscription Video-On-Demand services such as Netflix, Amazon, iTunes, and Hulu are not yet required by the FCC to include closed captions. However, Netflix and iTunes content must be captioned in order to be on that SVOD‘s library.

If you’re experiencing any problems with captioning on this type of programming, please email marketing@vitac.com and we’ll be glad to assist you!

We are also happy to help with or point you in the right direction to solve any other caption troubles! Click here to access the contact info you can report a viewer concern to.

2 thoughts on “Captioning Complications, Causes, and Correction

  1. I have Netflix on my Comcast cable and tonight I started watching The Crown, only to discover that it is not close captioned. I know my captioning is turned on. I use captioning all the time and especially when the the drama is English like The Crown. Please advise if you can help or what I should do.

    1. Audrey, how frustrating! I just logged in to my own Netflix account and found “The Crown” with captions. Perhaps, while you have your cable captions activated, you may have yet to activate the Netflix captions. It may be a separate setting than your television preferences. Here is the Netflix help page which details where these preferences are set on various platforms.

      Has this helped? If you have any further questions, don’t hesitate to ask!

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