December 4, 2011

AMC Continues to Censor Closed Captions

**UPDATE: Issue has been resolved.**

I am watching AMC shows Walking Dead and Hell On Wheels. They are both excellent shows, although I am liking Hell On Wheels more than Walking Dead at the moment. They are also both very violent and bloody, not suitable for young children. In addition, the language used is not always appropriate. They don't censor the offensive language in the audio portion. If you have the ability to hear well, you can hear them say words like 'sh--', 'ass', and 'assh---'. However, the word 'sh--'  is censored in the closed captions. On Walking Dead, the word is depicted in the captions as s@@.

I try not to use curse words or inappropriate language on my blog because I want to keep this as family friendly as I can. Plus, I am not a fan of curse words. So, it is okay for me to censor or not use certain words I may find offensive. But, I would never tell others not to use profanity, in other words, censor others, while I use profanity. For me to say that it is okay for me to swear while it is not okay for others to swear would not be fair. If I provided a tool or service that turns my text into speech enabling visually impaired people to listen to what is written on this blog, would it be right for me to exclude certain words or to only provide a 'cleaned up' version for them? No, of course not!

I have been told, "Well, it is better than nothing. At least you have closed-captions, you should stop complaining and be grateful." 

While I am grateful for AMC providing closed captions for their television shows, I am not grateful that they continue to exclude a specific group of viewers by censoring the closed-caption portion, but not the audio portion. This is discrimination. This is violating freedom of speech laws.

By the way, according to the FCC,
  • As of January 1, 2006, all “new” English language programming, defined as analog programming first published or exhibited on or after January 1, 1998, and digital programming first aired on or after July 1, 2002, must be captioned, with some exceptions.
  • As of January 1, 2008, 75 percent of “pre-rule” English language programming, defined as analog programming first shown before January 1, 1998, and digital programming first shown before July 1, 2002, must be captioned, with some exceptions. 
(From the FCC Closed Captioning Guide). 

While it is nice that AMC provides closed-captioning for their new shows, it does not make me feel so grateful knowing that they are required to do so according to the FCC. So, it is unlikely they are providing closed-captions to make sure deaf and hard of hearing viewers are not left out; it is because they have to. If they really cared, they would not be pre-censoring the language used in the captions.

While they are required to provide closed-captioning, it seems as if they are not required to caption the dialogue verbatim. They can cut costs by providing only one version of the closed captions (the cleaned up version) as Greg Hlibok, Chief of the FCC's Disability Rights Office, explains in his letter concerning this issue, which you can read here.

It does not make me feel grateful when I think someone is doing me a favor out of obligation. 
What do you think? 


  1. I want captioning of all words spoken on these shows. I watch both of them and I am enjoying Hells on Wheels too. I have noticed that they cover up cuss words with @, at least I can hear them say it. I think that captioning should reflect every single words spoken on TV. But, I am thankful that at least the show is captioned.

  2. I watch Hell on Wheels, too. HOW is an adult western show with profanity, blood and violence on at a time when the kiddies are in bed.

    I don't like how AMC treats its ADULT deaf/hoh audience as kiddies with its "bleeped" captioning. Who are they kidding? No pun intended. :(


  3. I was actually caught off guard, when I first started watching either show. I enjoy both and I feel, I like the walking dead a bit more. I have always loved zombies. I wonder what it would be like and how I would deal with being in a world like that. I couldn’t believe that the stuff was not as censored. I head some cuss words really grabbed my attention. I am glad that the censorship is not bad. I don’t use the closed captions so I didn’t realize that on that side they are more censored. I think that does take away from the show. I like reality with the cussing and gore have made this more enjoyable. I think that for this type of content though it does need to be on at a later time. I watch this off my DVR since I am not home much. I do a lot of traveling so I depend on my Sling adapter connected to my employee service from DISH. I watch TV on my iPad this lets me stream live TV, or my recordings right off the DVR. I have been able to enjoy TV more than ever. This was my answer to missing TV, when I can’t be home. You can hook this up to other devices like a PC, laptop/notebook, and Android. I will never have to worry about missing a show, or even a game. You can get this free as a new customer and get the best portable TV available. This is only for a limited time and you never will miss TV again.

  4. I've seen the opposite happen here in the UK, where mildly bad language (e.g.. bitch, bastard...) is cut from an episode, but not from the subtitles where you can still see the word and know that it has been removed.


Keep it civil.