September 13, 2011

Reasons Given For Why Closed-Captions Are Censored When Spoken Dialogue is Not

**UPDATE: Issue has been resolved.**

I just spoke to someone, who, as part of her job, had to call me in regards to my complaint to the FCC about profanity intentionally censored in closed-captions that can be heard when spoken on shows like Breaking Bad. 

Nothing came of the call. No solution. Apparently, there is nothing they can do about it. She could not even provide any names and numbers of others I can complain to who could possibly help.

Instead I was given vague reasons for why the closed-captions are censored while the spoken version is not.

These are the reasons she gave me:
  • FCC guidelines for closed-captions are different from their guidelines with spoken dialogue.
  • Because the producers of the television show are not controlled by the FCC (that is if the show is shown after 10:00 p.m. until 6 a.m.) the dialogue or spoken language used in the show will not be censored. However, the guidelines for closed-captions are completely different, meaning that they will be censored.  
  • Apparently, reading the profanity being used is worse than hearing it. So, to see the profanity in the captions is unacceptable while hearing it is acceptable. 
These reasons make absolutely no sense. It's bizarre, really. I wanted to know why closed-captions would be regulated differently from spoken dialogue. She could not give me any valid reasons.

It killed me when she said that it should not be a problem for me to figure out what words they are using, because I am given a hint with the first letter given. She gave an example using the word "love", that if I can read it as l--- then I should be able to understand what was just said.

This made me want to throw my phone against the wall. 

Those who rely on closed-captions are being discriminated against according to the disability access laws. Deaf and hard of hearing people should be given the same access as people with typical hearing. If a word is censored when spoken, it should be censored in the closed-captions. If the word is not censored when spoken, it should not be censored in the closed-captions. Censoring only the closed-captions but not spoken dialogue is violating the laws of free speech. One cannot discriminate among classes of viewers. One cannot provide full access to speech to only one group of viewers while censoring it for a different group of viewers. 



  1. The National Association of the Deaf is now looking in the matter and they will communicate to me their progress. But have to keep in mind, the wheels of bureaucracy turns slowly. I encourage everyone to file with the FCC and keep them coming.

  2. Wow. Censorship--period--is silly. And insulting. What are we, 6 years old??


Keep it civil.