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October 18, 2002

CBC settles closed captioning dispute

From: Canoe News, Canada
Oct. 18, 2002

OTTAWA (CP) -- CBC Television has agreed to speed up its timetable for providing closed captioning for the hearing impaired on all of its Engligh-language programming.

The decision, announced Thursday, was part of an out-of-court settlement between the public broadcaster and a Canadian citizen and was brokered by the Canadian Human Rights Commission.

Under the agreement, CBC promised to have 100 per cent of its programming on the main network and Newsworld, including in-house commercials and promos and live, breaking news, captioned by Nov. 1.

The CBC said it was already at 92 per cent.

The issue arose when a Vancouver man, Henry Vlug, who is deaf, filed a complaint with the commission in 1997. After an investigation, a tribunal's findings were headed for judicial review by the Federal Court.

Ruth-Ellen Soles, CBC spokeswoman, declined to say how much the acceleration of the captioning service would cost, but added they would find the money.

"We're getting new hardware and software and we're going to have captioners on call 24 hours a day," Soles said.

Catherine Barratt, a commission spokeswoman, said the settlement helps speed up what would have otherwise been a very litigious and expensive process.

"And it shows good faith by the broadcaster. We're very pleased with the outcome."

Barratt said there is no direct impact on private broadcasters but she added that it does set a very strong example and sends a strong signal.

Vlug was also pleased, calling it an important milestone for the deaf and the hard-of-hearing community.

"Now would be a good time for the other broadcasters to begin providing closed captioning of all their programming, too," he said in a statement.

Copyright © 2002, CANOE