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CC Watch
The Closed-Captioning Watchdog on the Internet

Why Are We Here?

According to the National Center for Health Statistics, in 1996 there were approximately 22 million reported deaf and hard-of-hearing people in the United States. It's safe to say that there are at least that many Americans today who could potentially directly benefit from closed-captioning, not including those who could benefit from the educational aspects of closed-captioning. Not only does it make arguably the number one communications medium in today's society accessible to the deaf and hard of hearing, but it can also be a valuable tool in literacy education.

If I, Joe Citizen, had a home video that I wanted to have encoded with closed-captioning, it would cost me less than $20/minute to have a broadcast-quality betamax video cassette commercially encoded through an external closed-caption vendor. This is the worst cost scenario for captioning video:

  1. I'm not providing a script.
  2. My video is not time coded.
  3. I need to proof the transcribed audio.
  4. All this has to be done through the mail (or FedEx, UPS, etc.).

Now, imagine I'm a television producer with a small budget of $200,000 for my half-hour show. Supposing there were 7-1/2 minutes of commercials during the program, it would cost $450 to outsource my closed-captioning for that program. That's only 0.225% of my budget, assuming I go with the highest bidder. It's not even as expensive as all that, considering:

  1. My program has a complete script.
  2. My master tape is time coded.
  3. My script is probably annotated with the time coding for the cue.
  4. My broadcaster probably already has a relationship with a closed-captioning provider.

If closed-caption encoding is so cheap, why aren't all programs captioned? Of those programs that are captioned, why are the captions stripped from the video for rebroadcast? As consumers, why do we endorse advertisers that support this kind of programming? The answer is that consumers don't know what's going on, and that's why we're here.

It's money that makes the world go 'round, and television producers and broadcasters make money through advertising spots. As long as the spots are successful, that is, as long as we keep buying their products, then companies will continue to buy advertising time during shows. Stop buying products and services that are advertised during non-captioned shows, and tell them why. That's what this site is all about: to let you know which sponsors actively support the exclusion of deaf and hard-of-hearing people from the number one media outlet in America, television.

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Copyright ©2001 by Nicholas Borko. All Rights Reserved.