Many of us were eager to watch Law and Order: Criminal Intent recently because the cast consisted of deaf actors. Those of us in the Dallas/Fort Worth area experienced interruptions due to the storms we had on Tuesday evening.
The local NBC affiliate heard plenty of complaints and re-aired the episode a couple of days later… at 2:00am. It was the best the station could do because of contracts and all that legal stuff. I thought it was a nice compromise. Most of us have recorders, but for those who don’t — there’s always summer re-runs.
Captions also disappear when the station puts up a brief “note” along the lines of “Tune in tonight’s news to learn about losing weight without dieting.” I just watched something yesterday and the captions disappeared for about four or five sentences. It doesn’t take much to miss something critical.
Another situation occurred when the local station posted a report or update at the bottom of the screen. Thankfully, the captions didn’t disappear. But some people might be upset because the captions blocked this text. If it’s a weather report or something that affects us, we want to know. Obviously, posting the captions on the top of the screen during this time minimizes what we see of the program.
So what’s the middle ground? Several networks proved it’s possible for a local network to post a message without affecting the captions. I don’t know if they have the ability to control placement — but why not put their notes at the top? In most cases, the captions appear at the bottom — occasionally, they appear on the top. Will those who don’t use captions complain if the text appears on top instead of bottom? Probably.
I think at the very least — captions should never disappear. As for placement — I am not going to complain if I can’t see what’s behind the captions. If I know it’s about the weather, I have other ways to get the answer.
However, for standard stuff that occurs every time a program is on — such as the guest stars’ names — I think the captions should appear elsewhere on the screen while those names appear. What are your thoughts?