Sinclair Broadcast Group, the largest owner of television stations in the United States, has switched from human-written captions to automated captions. The new system uses automatic speech recognition (ASR) powered by IBM’s artificial intelligence platform Watson. According to a statement released by IBM, Watson Captioning will make “live programming more accessible to local viewers, including the Deaf community, senior citizens, and anyone experiencing hearing loss.”
However, the National Court Reporters Association (NCRA) disagrees. NCRA represents the professions of court reporting and captioning. In a recent statement, NCRA CEO Marcia Ferranto said that human-written captions are “faster, more accurate, and more dependable than artificial intelligence-based alternatives… and, in addition, it is largely preferred by the consumers of these services.”
If you disagree with the captioning switch, you can share your thoughts with local stations and with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Visit this Wikipedia page to see which stations in your area are owned by Sinclair. Watch your local news on these stations. If you see captioning mistakes, you can write down the day and time, contact the station, and let them know. A picture or screenshot of the mistakes may also be helpful.
You can also let the FCC know about any captioning mistakes. Visit the FCC’s website to let them know about any captioning issues.
Thanks for your help, advocates!
Director of Communications
The Fifth Freedom Network