FCC Caption Quality Best Practices: Caption Vendor Contact Information

Feb 5 2015 David Titmus

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In preparation for the new FCC Caption Quality Requirements effective March 16, 2015, we continue our series, “FCC Caption Quality Rules Explained.”

Our last post reminded networks and producers that any pre-recorded program must have pre-recorded captions by our offline department, not by our realtime department as the show airs live, as stated in 79.1(1)(k)(ii)(C) of the Caption Quality Best Practices.

Today we discuss 79.1(1)(k)(iii)(C) of the Caption Quality Best Practices, Programmer and captioning vendor contacts.

What the rule says: The video programmers must… “Provide to captioning vendors appropriate staff contacts who can assist in resolving captioning issues. Make captioning vendor contact information readily available in master control or other centralized location, and contact captioning vendor promptly if there is a caption loss or obvious compromise of captions.”

What the rule means: Networks provide VITAC with the telephone numbers of personnel that can easily assist in the troubleshooting process if there is a loss or potential loss of captions. These phone numbers are available on a technical contact sheet at every desk in VITAC’s realtime production department. In turn, VITAC provides the realtime production hotline number to the networks in case any captioning issues arise. Our clients must have this number posted in a common area, such as a control room for easy access and prompt contact.

How the rule helps improve caption quality:

Video Programmers: About 20 minutes before every live broadcast of a captioned program, VITAC’s realtime production coordinators perform a caption test with the realtime captioner and the video programmer. Once the test has been verified, captions should appear at the start of the show. However, it is inevitable that technology malfunctions on occasion. Our coordinators verify captions at the beginning of every program. If captions are not present, the coordinator first tries to troubleshoot with the captioner. However, if the problem does not seem to be on VITAC’s end, the coordinator must contact the network immediately. Since the video programmers are required to provide qualified technical contacts and VITAC has this contact information readily available, the troubleshooting process is streamlined and captions return swiftly.

Captioning Vendors: VITAC’s realtime production department is staffed 24/7, 365. We provide our clients with the realtime production hotline, (724)-514-4053. When video programmers keep this phone number in a centralized location such as master control, they are able to access it quickly. It is guaranteed that one of our coordinators will answer, no matter what time of day or night. Whether in attempt to fix a technical issue, or for a last-minute caption request for breaking news or weather coverage, this phone number will guide video programmers to achieving realtime captions on the air.

VITAC is dedicated to being prepared in any situation. Having video programmer contact information available at every work station and providing networks with the realtime production hotline demonstrates our commitment to caption quality