Captioning and Transcription for Broadcast Media

December 17, 2018 BY JACLYN LAZZARI
Updated: August 30, 2023

Before we delve into captioning and transcription for broadcast media, let’s first define what broadcast media is. Broadcast media companies distribute all kinds of content to a broad audience through mediums like TV, radio, or the internet. In this post, we’re talking specifically about television broadcasters that distribute video content.

There are three broadcast media types: commercial, public, and community broadcast.

  • Commercial broadcasters are for-profit, privately-owned channels, networks, or services which are typically offered with cable subscription fees. An example of a commercial broadcaster is A&E.
  • Public broadcasters are typically non-profit, publicly-owned stations or networks supported by government funds, grants, membership fees, et cetera. An example of a public broadcaster is PBS.
  • Community broadcasters are typically owned and operated by a community group and deliver programs of local interest. An example of community broadcaster is any local news station, such as WMUR9 in southern New Hampshire.

3 Types of Broadcast Media: Commercial, Public, and Community

Though there are several types of broadcasters, they each share at least one thing in common: all broadcast media companies must caption their programs. Broadcast media companies caption their shows for many reasons, mainly to comply with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), but also to enhance the viewer experience and cater to diverse audiences.

This post will help broadcast media companies learn what should matter to them when it comes to captioning, common challenges they may face, and what vendor tools can help them the most.

What is important for broadcast media?

  • Accuracy: Broadcast media providers must comply with the FCC, which issues standards for communication via television and other forms of mass media distribution. In addition to the FCC requiring closed captions for all TV programs, they also provide Caption Quality Standards, which state, “In order to be accurate, captions must match the spoken words in the dialogue, in their original language (English or Spanish), to the fullest extent possible.” To be FCC compliant, broadcast media companies must deliver accurate captions with their television programs.
  • FCC Logo

  • Legal Compliance: As previously mentioned, the FCC regulates interstate and international communication. They set strict guidelines for closed captioning television programs and live broadcasts, with specific standards on caption accuracy, timing, placement, and completeness. It’s imperative that broadcast media providers comply with any and all FCC standards.
  • Flexibility and Ease of Use: The world of broadcast media is a busy one, and these companies may not have the time to fuss over their captioning workflow. Depending on if a company owns just one program or an entire network, captioning needs will vary based on the volume of content and how that content is scheduled. Regardless, all broadcast media companies are looking for a reliable turnaround, deadline compliance, and a steady captioning workflow.

What are common challenges for broadcast media?

  • Building a Captioning Workflow: Broadcast media companies often have to juggle several projects at a time, so it’s an understatement to say that finding the time to build an efficient captioning workflow is a challenge. If broadcasters could find a captioning solution to address this hurdle, it would make their lives much easier.
  • Captioning for Diverse Audiences: Broadcast media serves diverse audiences, and not all of those audiences speak English fluently. In the U.S. specifically, Spanish is the second-most spoken language; therefore many broadcasters provide Spanish subtitles, which differ from captions. Finding a one-stop-shop solution that provides closed captioning and translation services is ideal, but can be a challenging search.
  • Scalability: Broadcast media companies, especially large networks, are often producing large volumes of content that require captions in little to no time, at varying hours of the day. It’s difficult to scale the captioning workflow to their level of operations without having to sacrifice caption quality.

Which captioning and transcription vendor features are most important for broadcast media?

  • Audio Description: Audio description is valuable for blind or low vision viewers who don’t want to miss any details in their favorite shows. At 3Play, we have professional describers who help capture every facial expression and play in the game, and since we provide both captioning and audio description, it makes the whole process more efficient.
  • Caption Placement: Typically, captions are placed on the bottom of the screen; however, some programs have text on the bottom of the screen that is important for understanding the show. In that case, it’s crucial that captions don’t hide that information. 3Play Media’s vertical caption placement allows broadcast media companies to remain FCC compliant and to edit caption placement, ensuring that viewers don’t miss a beat of on-screen information.
  • Competitive pricing: 3Play Media’s advanced technology is what enables our competitive prices, but our quality assurance measures ensure that our caption quality is top-notch. We also offer flexible billing, allowing customers to have project level billing.
  • Learn more about building an API workflow.

  • Custom API Workflow: APIs help to streamline the captioning workflow. The right captioning vendor will work with the network to help automate the captioning workflow. 3Play media works with our broadcast media customers to set up flexible APIs which enable completely automated workflows. The basic APIs let you programmatically import media files, export transcript and captions files, and use video plugins. Captioning just got a lot easier!
  • Custom File Formats: 3Play Media offers over 50 file formats to help meet the unique captioning needs of broadcast media customers. If the right file format isn’t initially available, we can also create a custom format. We can output nearly any file that you need!
  • Guaranteed Accuracy: 3Play Media’s closed captions and transcripts comply with federal accessibility laws. Our captions provide a measured accuracy rate of 99.6%, and we always guarantee over 99% accuracy, even in cases of poor audio quality, multiple speakers, difficult content, and accents.
  • Reliable Turnaround Options: With broadcast media providers’ strict timelines and large volumes of content, turnaround options and deadline compliance are a high priority. 3Play Media offers multiple turnaround options ranging from 2 hours to 10 days and nearly everything in between. The only thing you need to do is pick which option works best for you, and we’ll do the rest.
  • Support: For any unexpected bumps in the captioning process, 3Play Media offers top-notch support to provide assistance. At 3Play Media, broadcast media customers have access to an account manager, a knowledgeable support team, and a robust library of resources.
  • Translation: Translation and subtitling services are important for broadcast media companies since it serves their diverse audiences. The good news? 3Play Media’s translation services are seamlessly integrated with our captioning and transcription services.

Broadcast Media Using 3Play Media

PBS and A&E are broadcast media companies using 3Play Media.

Get started today or learn more about 3Play Media's captioning, transcription, and audio description services.

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