BBC subtitle issues rumble on: Super fast, super small and super invisible

Posted on October 22, 2013

Frustration with the quality of subtitles from BBC’s iPlayer continue among deaf viewers unabated. Although the BBC uploaded a fix to iPlayer last week, which has resolved problems with missing or jumpy subtitles, viewers are reporting new problems.

Some viewers accessing iPlayer on internet connected TV’s are reporting super-small subtitles that left one viewer with a headache as she strained to read them. Another viewer watching TV in the South-West was bamboozled by super-fast subtitles on Match of the Day on Saturday night.

Other viewers are still waiting to find out if programmes that were impossible to watch with subtitles a couple of weeks ago and are now not available on iPlayer will be allowed to watch the programmes they missed. The fix that iPlayer techno-wizards employed last week worked but came more than 7-days after the problems first emerged. That means some of the programmes that viewers were ‘really looking forward to seeing’ are denied to them forever. That can’t be right.

Defeat was also grabbed from the jaws of victory when on Thursday the BBC subtitled the live debate about deaf children in Parliament but left the subtitles off the iPlayer coverage. Kudos to the Beeb for extending the subtitling coverage on the day but now only people who know about the BBC’s Democracy Live website or Hansard (verbatim reports of Parliamentary debates) will get to know what was said, unless they happened to be watching it live or reading this.

Just because a transcript exists, it doesn’t mean that its OK not to subtitle it. Emailing deaf viewers the East Enders script instead of subtitling the programme wouldn’t do either.

By Andy Palmer, Deputy Editor

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Posted in: Andy Palmer