CNN in 1991, and Today…

To All,

In my previous blog entry, I wrote about my experience visiting CNN.com website today and saw the first captioned online video advertisement prominently displayed on the top right side of the homepage. That video advertisement was purchased by Capgemini.

Picture 20

To read bit more about this, click here.

Now, I am going to address the irony of this, and why it is a deja vu all over again

Flashback in 1991. There was a conflict in Kuwait which Iraqi troops tried to invade, and started an aerial bombardment on January 17, 1991. I was glued to my television trying to find out what was happening, especially Iraqi fired SCUD missiles at Israel. I flipped channels and noticed that CNN was the first network reporting this conflict. Other networks carried CNN’s video feeds. CNN was not offering any real-time captioning services back then.

I was a student at Gallaudet University and I wrote a post on the VAX NEWS bulletin board system. That was eons ago before world wide web’s HTML language was invented.

I wrote, titled as: “I did my best, need your help!”

I called CNN’s Washington branch to inquire about lack of closed captioning of their Gulf War coverage. Their response was “We don’t close caption our shows and please call to the Headquarters in Atlanta.”

I called the headquarters through TEDI relay operator (that was before 24/7 TRS services), and was hung up three times. I asked for Public Relations Department, and I got this: “We don’t close caption our shows because it deemed to be unnecessary.” Ooo, I was mad.

I called National Captioning Institute (NCI) in Falls Church, VA and inquired why CNN did not caption their shows. The NCI responded that they did OFFER their services, but CNN declined because it was not necessary. I went ahead and called Washington Post newspaper, because they published many articles about CNN’s glamourous coverage on Gulf War and their reporters. I asked for Howard Kurtz, who was a columnist of “On The Line”, and guess what, I was hung up twice.

I was persistent, and I finally got Kurtz’ assistant, and was brushed off by referring me to the Editorial department.

Okay, I went ahead and shared my story to all of the students, staff and faculty at Gallaudet on January 23, 1991.

Few days later, Gallaudet University’s President, I. King Jordan heard my story. He wrote a letter to Ted Turner, Chairman of Turner Broadcasting in Atlanta.

CNNGallaudetpage1CNNGallaudetpage2

Several weeks later, CNN went ahead and implemented real-time captioning services for their late-breaking live news!

Now, it is a deja vu all over again, 18 years later.

Capgemini purchased an advertisement space on the CNN.com website, and their video advertisement comes with captions.

The rest of CNN’s videos online are not captioned, or not offering any kind of feature that allows us to turn on captions.

CNN, be a trailblazer, offer online captions for your videos right now. It is time.

Best,
Amy Cohen Efron

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6 comments on “CNN in 1991, and Today…

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What really gets me about CNN (and HLN and MSNBC) is how they take advantage of the FCC rule that says captioning is not required in the wee hours of the night (I think 2-6 am?). Even though they are showing reruns of programs that had aired hours earlier with captions, the shows are aired without captions during the night. Where is the sense in this? People worked hard and the company paid money to create the captioning just hours earlier, and they don’t show it? Why?? Do they save a few pennies in electricity from turning off a machine for a few hours?

This has forced me to alternative methods to get my news and entertainment. Now I don’t watch TV anymore and get my news from online services such as ThomsonReuters and MyWay.com. For pleasure I watch DVDs. Probably many other people are doing this. It has spoiled me in an important way: I avoid anything that pushes a commercial in my face. Big Business, are you listening?

Amy, Big thanks!

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