Television

Forty years of captioned news

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This week marks the 40th anniversary of the world’s first captioned news program, which went to air on America’s PBS network at 11pm on 3 December 1973.

Today, news bulletins around the world are routinely captioned using a number of different techniques. Live elements of a program are captioned by ‘stenocaptioners’ who use a stenographic keyboard, or by captioners using speech recognition software. These techniques did not exist in 1973, so the first captioned bulletin, called The Captioned ABC Evening News, was a repeat of the bulletin that had gone to air at 6 pm. This gave a team of six captioners time to prepare the captions for broadcast.


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New access company launched in New Zealand

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Able is the new company which will be supplying captioning for channels TV One, TV2, TV3 and FOUR in New Zealand, as well as audio description for TVC One and TV2.

The staff at Able were formerly located in the studios of TVNZ, which owns TV One and TV2. However, as TV3 and FOUR are owned by another company, MediaWorks New Zealand, it was decided earlier this year to transfer them to an independent company. The CEO of Able, Wendy Youens, was formerly Access Services Manager at TVNZ.


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Ai-Media adopts European caption quality model

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The Australian access company Ai-Media, which will take over the captioning of all Nine network television programs in January, has adopted the NER model, a method of measuring live captions created using speech recognition technology.

The NER model was developed by Pablo Romero-Fresco of Roehampton University and Juan Martinez, a respeaking consultant. ‘Respeaking’ is the term used for a captioner repeating the dialogue of a TV program or other medium into a microphone, which is then turned into captions by text-to-speak software. In the NER Model, N stands for the number of words in the respoken text, E for ‘Edition’ errors introduced by the respeaker, and R for ‘Recognition’ errors caused by the software.


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Audio description on TV – where to now?

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Media Access Australia has prepared an analysis of the ABC’s report on the technical delivery of the audio description trial on ABC1 last year. Written by Project Manager for Television, Chris Mikul, Audio description – where to now? looks at viewer responses to the trial, the technical issues that were raised by it, and how these may be overcome.

At the end of October, the Department of Communications released the technical report prepared by the ABC. The report was keenly anticipated by blind and vision impaired TV viewers who want Australia to join the US, the UK, New Zealand and many other countries in having a permanent audio description service on television.


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