From a National Association of the Deaf press release:
From a Palm Beach Post article.:
Television Captioning Censorship Hurts Family Values
Posted October 2, 2003
The National Association of the Deaf (NAD) urged President Bush to overturn a recent decision by the U.S. Department of Education to declare almost 200 television shows inappropriate for captioning by the Department’s Technology and Media Services for Individuals with Disabilities program, effective October 1, 2003. According to NAD President, Andrew J. Lange, the Department's action is government censorship and contradicts President Bush’s promotion of family values and parental accountability.
Under the current guidelines, applicants for captioning grants take into account the preferences of consumers, through grantee Consumer Advisory Boards (CABs) and other feedback mechanisms, when selecting “educational, news, or informational” programs for captioning. The recent decision deeming almost 200 television shows inappropriate for captioning apparently was based entirely on additional descriptive categories and actions of an external panel of five unnamed individuals.
Required federal rulemaking processes were completely disregarded, thus the public was not provided with the opportunity to provide written opinions, data, or arguments on the recently narrowed definition of “educational, news, or informational” programs for captioning.
The NAD have a list of supported/unsupported shows.
The National Association of the Deaf says the government used to caption these shows but abruptly changed course, deciding that the shows don't fit the required definition of "educational, news or informational" programming.
"They've suddenly narrowed down the definition of those three kinds of programming without public input," says Kelby Brick, director of the NAD's law and advocacy center. "Basically, the department wants to limit captioning to puritan shows. The department wants to ensure that deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals are not exposed to any non-puritan programming. Never mind that the rest of the country is allowed to be exposed."
How imperiled the nation might be if The Simpsons and Malcolm in the Middle reached into the living rooms of the impressionable hard-of-hearing. Or, for that matter, Scooby-Doo.
The censorship raises baffling questions about who gets in and who's left out. The government has rejected Nancy Drew but is accepting Andy Hardy. Cory the Clown has won approval, but the Cisco Kid is toast. Charlie Rose and Rod Serling are worthy of captions, but Catherine Crier and Dominick Dunne aren't. Go figure.
The Department of Education is refusing to reveal the names of the panel members whose opinions determined the caption grants and also won't disclose the new guidelines. By every appearance, the government has changed its definition of what constitutes a caption-worthy program. But it's keeping the new rules secret.
I'm kinda stunned. I didn't realize quite so many shows had government support for captioning. Captioning isn't just used by the deaf, but used in many situations where the spoken word is hard to hear. If the government doesn't support grants for closed captioning, will as many programs get captioned? Given the shows that do and do not get captioning support from the government, is this in fact censorship? Or should the free market bear the price of captioning programs?
Regardless, this is a chilling tale of secret government action that directly affects the media.
Edited by cutecouple, Feb 18, 2004 @ 2:25 AM.