FCC set to seat DTV close caption panel


One of the loose ends of the DTV transition is getting close captioning to work in the new technical environment. The FCC is empaneling a task force of consumers, staffers and industry stakeholders to wrestle the problem into submission. It’s first meeting is at the Commission’s Southwest Washingon DC headquarters 5/18/09. It’s goal is to identify problems, evaluate DTV capabilities and develop solutions.

For Acting FCC Chair Michael Copps, it’s better late than never. “I am extremely pleased that we are launching this important effort,” he said. “The FCC’s Consumer Advisory Committee first recommended convening this working group in October 2007. I had long supported that proposal, but did not have the ability to act until I became Acting Chair. Unfortunately, like much of the DTV transition, we are playing catch-up and cannot address all of these issues before the transition date. But we can start, and we can commit ourselves to working together—government, industry, and consumers — to address these problems as quickly as we can.”
From the FCC, here is a list of anticipated issues:

* Lack of captions or garbled captions on HD channels

* HD set top box stripping or garbling captions on HD channels

* Concern that HDMI cables may not pass through the captions

* VPD or station equipment cannot properly deliver up-converted (analog to digital) captions

* Captions readable by digital-to-analog converter boxes not being transmitted

* Problems receiving captions through digital-to-analog converter boxes or multi-channel * VPD set-top boxes

* Overlapping captions (two lines of captions displayed over each other)

* Captions flashing on and off

* Captions that inadvertently switch to text mode, causing 95% of the screen image to be obscured.

* Highly difficult user interfaces or directions causing users to conclude that captions are unavailable on their TV sets.

And here are the members of the panel:

Consumer representatives:

* FCC Consumer Advisory Committee, Karen Peltz Strauss

* American Council of the Blind, Eric Bridges

* Northern Virginia Resource Council for Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Hearing Loss

* Association of America, Cheryl Heppner

Industry representatives:

* National Center for Accessible Media (NCAM) at WGBH, Larry Goldberg

* NAB, Graham Jones

* NCTA, Andy Scott

* Echostar, John Card

* DirecTV, Robert Gabrielli

* CBS, Bob Seidel

* COMCAST, Charlie Kennamer

* National Captioning Institute (NCI), Marc Okrand

* Motorola, Jeff Newdeck

* Panasonic, Tony Jaisnowski, Panasonic

* CaptionMax, Gerald Freda,

* PBS, Stephen Scheel

* Verizon, Jimmy Ho

* Norpak, Bob Fitzgerald

* VITAC, Tim Taylor

* CEA, Brian Markwalter

* LG, John Taylor

* AT&T, Chris Boyer

* Evertz Microsystems, Michael Kirouac

* EEG, Phil McLaughlin

* ABC, David Dreispan

* FOX, Andy Setos

* NBC, Greg DePriest

* Speech Conversion Technologies, Gregory Schmidt

FCC representatives:

* CGB Chief Catherine Seidel and OET Chief Julius Knapp will serve as Co-Chairs of the working group.  In addition, the following FCC staff will serve in support roles:

* Michael Jacobs (CGB Front Office)

* Alan Stillwell (OET Front Office)

* Hugh Van Tuyl (OET, Technical Rules Branch)

* Steve Martin (OET, Technical Research Branch/FCC Lab)

* Amelia Brown (CGB, Disability Rights Office)