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BBC Vision Celebrates 100% Subtitling

logo-bbc.jpgThe BBC says it has now reached a 100% subtitling target in respect of television:

BBC Vision has confirmed that it has reached its target of subtitling 100% of programs on its main channels - BBC One, BBC Two, BBC Three, BBC Four, CBeebies, CBBC and BBC News. Deaf and hard of hearing people will now be able to fully enjoy the complete range of BBC television programs on these networks.

This is good news, and the hard work of campaigners, especially that of the Deaf Broadcasting Council spanning over decades.

Historical Context

A public commitment for 100% television subtitling output came in 1999, from a road that started in 1979:

In 1979, a documentary about deaf children called Quietly In Switzerland became the first BBC programme to carry subtitles using the brand new Ceefax technology ....

Blue Peter was the first live program to carry subtitles in 1986 and subtitling of news programs followed in 1990.

Any gripes?

Of course - this is GOD!

Is this really 100%? What about the announcement saying what programme is on next, and a commentary about context. Yes I'm nitpicking, but 100% is meant to mean just that.

Its a shame that the BBC focuses on two deaf organisations in its press release, and doesn't really give credit where its due. Will these people get invited to a knees up at parliament, I mean the ones that worked for 0p and probably did their campaigning at 2am?

Subtitling probably existed because initially because of National Union of the Deaf (NUD) and later Deaf Broadcasting Council, and those who worked towards achieving this goal. Since I don't think I've been around long enough, who would people nominate as key players for where subtitling is today?

Additionally, this is not a time to be complacent. I've got a lot more to say about subtitling and the BBC, i.e. the dire state of affairs when it comes to non existent subtitles for online services, more on this soon.

What about other channels?

The output targets of other channels under the Communications Act 2003 are:

[T]he analogue services of ITV and Channel 4 must reach 90% by 2010; and Channel Five must reach 80% by 2008 ... All new digital channels must reach a level of 60% five years after their start-up, and 80% after ten years.

BBC Vision celebrates 100% subtitling
Hearing Concern: Subtitling Campaign

See also:
BBC & accessible online content
iPlayer: A Deaf Perspective
BBC on YouTube, but where's the subtitles?
BBC iPlayer, Part 2

Comments (5)

How about commercials, or, in British English, adverts?

How about subtitled programs? Oh, but you can’t differentiate those two in British English. Wee problem there.

We know all about 100% captioning, as it is properly and unambiguously called, in Canada, and we know how hard it is to reach. Five-nines captioning, or 99.999% captioning, is the realistic working level, and it does indeed include commercials, bumpers, promos, intros, extros, every live show, second- or third-language programming, kids’ shows, and subtitled programming. Sure all those are covered on the Beeb?


My concern has always been the quality standard outputting of subtitling.
So far real time subtitles are a pain to watch.
I guess they just want to say been there and done it but make do with our bog standard outputting - you got to be lucky and grateful! We are doing our best, technology cannot be ever so perfect etc
Do they do that with hearies with their sound quality! I think not - so why have we got second rated standard quality of subtitle outputting.
#However I am ever so pleased I can now watch programs at home and not be isolated and even for that matter I prefer to stay home and watch telly cos it the best medium of knowing what is going on out in the real world - try sitting in a pub and eves drop people chatting - we cant cos anyone couldnt care to give us the time to tell us whats up....
poo pah!! BBC...100 per cent mean everything and you aren't there yet....

@Joe Clark - the BBC is funded by a licence fee, thus there's no adverts.

Own a TV set and you need to pay an annual licence (bit like TV taxation). This funds the BBC.

@M Williams - good point. Something to be said of quality over quantity.

It's great that the BBC now has 100% coverage - what's not so great is the quality of the subtitling.

One particularly bad example is Match Of The Day. The subtitles are always behind the speaker and are usually so poor they are not worth reading - especially when it comes to player names, they are laughably inaccurate.

The program is recorded after the day's games have finished and put out on air at 10.30pm - this should easily be enough time to do the subtitling properly. As it is - it seems that someone is writing them live as the show goes out.

How are subtitles produced on the BBC? Surely some computer software can be run to covert the audio with near-perfect results?

Is there a general forum where deaf/hard-of-hearing people can get together and lobby for better subtitling?

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