On July 5th, the CRTC posted new quality standards for English-language closed captioning.

The mandatory standards below will come into effect on September 1, 2012, so keep your programming compliant and ensure that the hearing impaired don't miss out on your story!

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Appendix to Broadcasting Regulatory Policy 2012-362

English-language Closed Captioning Mandatory Quality Standards

1) Lag time
For live programming, the lag time between the audio and the captions must not exceed six seconds, averaged over the program.

2) Accuracy rate for pre-recorded programming
Captioning for pre-recorded programs must target an accuracy rate of 100%, including spelling.

3) Accuracy rate for live programming
Broadcasters must reach an accuracy rate of at least 95% averaged over the program, as measured by the following calculation method:

 Accuracy rate = (words – errors*) / Words X 100

*For the purpose of this standard, an error includes word substitutions, word omissions, and word insertions.

4) Monitoring of accuracy rate

Every month each broadcaster must calculate the accuracy rate for two programs containing live content. Every two years, broadcasters must provide the Commission with a report describing their efforts made in-house and requests to caption providers in order to improve the accuracy rate.

5) Rebroadcast of programs initially aired live
When a broadcaster rebroadcasts a program that was initially aired live, it must correct errors in the captioning if:
  • the content is rebroadcast as is, i.e. subsequent broadcasts are recordings of the original broadcast;

  • in the case of Category 1 (News) or Category 3 (Reporting and Actualities) programs, the time between the end of the original broadcast and the rebroadcast is equal to at least two times the total duration of the program; and

  • in the case of all other live programs, the program is rebroadcast more than 24 hours after the end of the original broadcast.

6) On-screen information
Positioning: For both live and pre-recorded captioning, captions must be positioned to avoid covering action, visual elements or any information required to understand the message. Conflict between captions and on-screen information: If, despite the broadcaster’s efforts, it is impossible to present captions without obstructing other graphic elements on screen (e.g. sports scores, weather data, breaking news), captions take precedence.

7) Speed

Captions must be verbatim representations of the audio, regardless of the age of the target audience. Speech must only be edited as a last resort, when technical limitations or time and space restrictions will not accommodate all of the spoken words at an appropriate presentation rate. For the purpose of this standard, “appropriate presentation rate” is defined as 120-130 words per minute for children’s programming.

8) Captioning format for Canadian pre-recorded programming
Pop-on captions are to be used for all new Canadian pre-recorded programming. Pre-recorded programs are those that have been delivered in their entirety – lacking only the closed captioning information – 96 hours before they are to be broadcast.

9) Closed captioning of emergency alerts
With the exception of emergency alerts issued by the National Alert Aggregation and Dissemination system, in the event of a community emergency, broadcasters are required to provide all relevant information in both vocal and written formats and must insert the captions in their programming as soon as possible, using the method described in the CAB Closed Captioning Manual.