14 Oct 2020 Heather York

Q: Why are captions garbled ?

A: If you’re seeing strange characters and severe misspellings in your closed captioning, this is referred to as “garbling.” You may also be experiencing what is called “paired errors,” which occurs when two letters or characters are dropped out in repeated intervals. During some programs, errors aren’t as severe, and it’s still easy to figure out the context. For instance:

>> I WALKED DOWN THE STREET becomes >> I WALK DO THE STREET.

But with other errors, it’s nearly impossible to figure out:

>> I WALKED DOWN THE STREET becomes >> I WKED DOWTH STRT.

This could be happening for a variety of reasons, but the most common is that it is a transmission issue with your video programming distributor (cable provider, broadcaster, or satellite provider). Per the Federal Communications Commission, the programming distributor must pass through captions and make sure they’re passing through correctly. To report a problem, see “How can I complain about captions?” above.