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February 24, 2003

KUAM News rolls out closed captioning system

From: KUAM-TV, Guam - 24 Feb 2003

by Jason Salas , KUAM News

Now as many of you know, KUAM strives to stay on the cutting edge of technology, and as the station?s biggest proponent of the use of technology, the past two weeks have been as exciting for me as any in a long while. Many of you have noticed our broadcast?s new closed captioning services and have e-mailed and called about this new feature.

In fact, one such viewer said he was so surprised to see Sabrina?s dialogue appear while she talked watching the news in a karaoke bar that he spit up his drink all over the bartender.

Now while it?s not magic that we?ve pulled off in making what we say appear on the screen, it is the result of a collaborative effort of technology and human effort to make our newscasts that much more accessible for our audiences. We?re going to take a closer look at just how televised closed captioning technology works, and how we?re using it to provide yet another way of keeping you informed.

Closed captioning in broadcast television works by decoding a hidden field within your TV?s display known as the ?vertical blanking interval.? This allows dialogue read by our anchors to appear as text on your screen. KUAM Chief Engineer Richard Garman was pointman for implementing the closed captioning system our newscasts now sport. He admits that such a transition was somewhat overdue, but the state of the economy prohibited the purchase of the very expensive system. ?I?ve been working with KUAM management and our software vendor for more than 5 years to bring closed captioning online. This is a very expensive system because the entire news authoring system were using had to be replaced. I am glad the KUAM owners found it fit to invest in this much-needed system,? he said.

The addition of closed captioning obviously makes KUAM?s televised newscasts more applicable to our hearing impaired viewers, as well as more convenient for use in crowded environments where clarity of sound may be compromised, such as malls, restaurants, bars, or storefronts. People can even use closed captioning dialogue to learn how to read English.

Garman says that it?s these benefits that make closed captioned newscasts that much more valuable to viewers, saying, ?Well, with the closed captioning, people will be able to read the text as the news anchors are speaking. This will allow the viewer even in noisy environments to view the news and understand what?s going on, even though they may not be able to hear the sound.?

So the new baby of the KUAM News family is very welcome, and currently in use. But don?t take it from me ? see it for yourself! If you have a TV set that supports closed captioning, try it out now. You?ll now be able to get the island?s latest news, in yet another format.

And yes, the entire KUAM family is so behind our new closed captioning abilities that some of the geniuses on our promotional crew perhaps were a little too forward-thinking when they proclaimed, ?Hey, maybe we should do closed captioning for radio, too!?

Maybe next year.

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