CBC captioning atrocity update
It’s been two full years since I submitted a raft of evidence that CBC wasn’t living up to its legal mandate to caption every single second of CBC Television and Newsworld. I promised updates at least every month on what they were doing wrong. (No points for getting things right; that isn’t how compliance monitoring works.)
In the cold light of day, it’s clear that CBC refuses to clean up its act completely. I assume they have nothing but bullshit reasons for such refusal, chief of which is a claim that doing things right costs more. CBC has the money. More relevantly, I am pretty sure they are refusing to improve in a few areas because I’m the one who outed them on doing things wrong. They’d rather sit there in legal noncompliance than do anything that suggests I was right all along. I was, of course.
What does 100% captioning really mean?
The same thing I already told you it means: Five-nines or 99.999% captioning, the same standard HBO uses. (CBC’s legal ruling calls for 100% captioning save for “glitches.”)
On a 24/7/365 network, that means you can run 525 minutes 36 seconds of uncaptioned material a year, or just under nine hours. Run five subtitled movies without captioning and you bust that number right there.
- Most or all of the time, CBC now actually captions subtitled movies.
- It is now much more rare to find no captions after a live segment, the cause of which is the stenocaptioner’s forgetting to place the encoder in passthrough mode. It still happens occasionally.
- Still using all upper case.
- Still not convinced there is such a thing as Canadian spelling, reverting to British (organise) at irregular intervals. (By God, man, we can’t very well use American! You don’t have to; we have our own orthography. Check the Canadian Oxford.)
- Still not clear on the fact that Canadian English uses American English quotation-mark rules (double then single, commas and periods inside), or clear on the fact that the name of a program is in italics (title of an episode uses double quotes). The name of a TV network isn’t italicized either, even if it’s the superspecial network that pays your wages.
- Still not clear on how to use pop-on captioning.
- Still an overuse of real-time captioning on shows that aren’t live. This has particularly unpleasant effects on Saturday-afternoon sports, which are rarely live and which are replete with proper names of athletes. The worst examples of all occur this time every year when CBC runs decades-old football games with real-time captioning.
Don’t you think 40 years is a long enough time to caption a football game?
- Re-telecasting recordings of live shows with original real-time captioning. Real-time captions have to be cleaned up, fully corrected, and live-displayed.
- Use of flatly impermissible Teleprompter captioning for local weather updates inside 9:00 PM shows like Intelligence.
Teleprompter captioning has been banned by the CRTC since 1995. Utterances and captioning in these segments generally have similar senses, but they don’t resemble each other in the slightest.
More trouble on the way
The Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage has begun work on its report on the CBC mandate. It will surely include a page or two on accessibility in the wake of the evidence I gave on the topic.
I have, moreover, filed an access-to-information request to receive any and all captioning manuals, and to receive everything Brigitte Ouellet and Peggy Zulauf have ever written about me by name.
What about the title?
“CBC captioning atrocity update” is a(n) homage to an old posting about Homicide captioning. I’ve used it before.