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Captioning Best Practices: Content Creators

Content creators

Television networks and affiliates, independent producers, and production companies

Content creators have a story to tell, from the weather forecast for the next seven days, to the running of the Kentucky Derby, to the election of next president of the United States.  And every viewer deserves the opportunity to learn that story, regardless of the viewer’s ability to hear.

The content creator’s role in the captioning process goes beyond simply hiring a captioning company to provide captions.  The content creator’s duties do not end with checking off a box that says the captioner signed in, captions were created, and were then sent out for distribution.  Transmission errors need to be addressed and fixed at any point in the transmission process.


Stations, networks, and independent producers (not all apply to independent producers) should:

Provide caption compliance monitoring

The monitoring solution should provide an alarm to alert the station or network if that program fails compliance. The following are examples of possible solutions:

  1. Post contact information for captioning service provider(s) in master control.
  2. Contact the captioner if there is a caption loss when dealing with audio-only programming.
  3. At all times, have an engineer available who has experience with and can reset encoders. This specifically applies to local stations. This will allow stations that do experience technical issues with their captions to fix issues in a timely manner.
  4. Maintain a database of viewer-problem reports that track date, time of day, program title, and a description of viewer’s equipment, including set-top and receiver model numbers.  This database would be used to help isolate problems to certain shows, geographical locations, end user equipment, etc. to help solve long-term captioning problems.
  5. Allow the captioner to conduct a connectivity test approximately 15 minutes before the program to ensure captions will appear at the top of the newscast. This especially applies to local or other stations that cannot be seen.
  6. Provide the captioner with a dedicated audio line with no delay and no other traffic or sound effects on it.
  7. For live sporting events, provide an audio line to the captioner with no or reduced crowd noise or sound effects.
  8. For programming that is captioned off air and scheduled to be rebroadcast with those captions, the audio should be set ahead of the video so as to minimize a delay in captions.
  9. Do not use telephone audio bridges that require pin codes for activation or that require a manual reset when switching captioners.
  10. To deliver caption data to caption encoders over phone lines:
    1. Only use plain old telephone service, or POTS, lines.
    2. Never use Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services or phone lines that run through a PBX telephone system.
    3. If using an Internet Protocol (IP) connection, be sure to retain a modem connection as a back-up.
    4. Work with captioners and caption companies to minimize caption delays for consumers.
    5. For televised meetings of government officials, ensure all speakers are adequately mic’d and speaking directly into the microphones.
    6. Provide access to preparation materials such as the show script and/or a chyron list, if possible, well enough in advance of the program to be useful. The captioner uses these materials to familiarize themselves with key names and subject matters that will be discussed during the program allowing for more accurate captions throughout the entirety of the program. This should include song lyrics when appropriate so that the captioner can be adequately prepared for live performances.

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