And The Winner Is ……

HEY! the captioning awards are next week. Did you know? On August 23rd, at Rydges in Sydney, there will be a slap up bash. Channel 7, Foxtel, Austar, and the Australian Communication Exchange with support from Deafness Forum will bring us these awards. Captioning has come a long way since the dark old days where the intellectual stimulation for Deaf and hearing impaired people was Neighbours and a few interesting shows on the ABC. We should take the time to celebrate, praise and slap people on the back. But while we do this let’s remember captioning access is far, far from perfect. This in mind I would like to award Prime (7) the captioning award for the Most Aggravating and Stupid Scheduling of Captioning ever in the Western, Eastern or Alien World. (Even though they are a sponsor of the awards)

I live in rural Ballarat. I watch 24, admittedly an acquired taste. Jack Bauer can never die. He saves the world, his lovers, his children and their pet dogs. His wounds heal in a nanosecond. He shoots people, cuts their throats and loves them the same. His pained and emotional looks whenever he slashes someone’s windpipe is a lesson to us all in how to murder with compassion.

Jack’s pained looks of failing and guilt were too much to bear. In the background the mushroom cloud rose into the air hauntingly

In short, 24 is great fun. It is release from a tedious day and quite exciting. Every Wednesday I pressed the remote in anticipation. The momentum and excitement were building and then suddenly, after three weeks, there were no captions. I clicked! 24 came on, no captions, there was an ad break and in this ad break our esteemed and fellow hearing impaired Prime Minister, John Howard, came on to make an announcement. What it was about, I would not know, because, despite government policy to the contrary, it was not captioned. And neither, unfortunately, was the rest of the episode of 24. Not to worry thought I. “A technical problem. Captions will be back next week.” And next week, there they were, captions blessed captions. Jack killed a few more people, but bugger the nuclear bomb went off. It killed thousands. Jack’s pained looks of failing and guilt were too much to bear. In the background the mushroom cloud rose into the air hauntingly.

“Goodness .. can’t wait for next week” thought I. The next week the time for 24 came, the credits for 24 commenced and .. bugger .. it wasn’t captioned …. I screamed, I literally screamed. Anyway in the ad break that kind old gent John Howard came on again. What it was about I would not know because his announcement was not captioned. And neither was the rest of 24.

And next week all was back to normal, killing, car chases and the like were all captioned so that I knew of every bang and scream. All was right in the world. And the week after it wasn’t captioned. John came back on with his severe and serious look, no doubt apologising for the lack of captions on 24 – I wouldn’t know because whatever he said was not captioned and neither was the rest of 24. This charade went on for the whole series. John, not to be beaten by mere excitement, even came on the very last episode so that the very last and exciting episode of 24 was not captioned either.

To add insult to injury whatever the Wally of a PM had to say wasn’t captioned either (Not that I really cared, but still…).

Was I frustrated? You bet! Was my wife frustrated? You bet! What was this all about? Well apparently the esteemed PM of Australia had bought himself some airtime to make announcements to people in rural areas. In doing so his announcements interrupted the captioned feed from Melbourne that was beamed to rural areas. What this meant was that the rural TV stations provided their own feed and for some reason the copy of 24 that they had did not have captions. To add insult to injury, whatever the Wally of a PM had to say wasn’t captioned either (Not that I really cared, but still…).

Confused? Well imagine how I felt! But that’s how it went. Every other week, because John Howard had something to say, we missed the captioned feed from Melbourne and the feed coming direct from the rural Prime station did not have captions. We complained, we screamed, we emailed but all to no avail. Media Access Australia said to complain and we did. And then we even complained about having to complain and have nothing happen. And then we simply just screamed. It was the pits!

So the award goes to – (And guess where my vote won’t go?)