Wednesday 5 October 2011

Frustrated with subtitles

Ever had one of those sleeps where you feel like you blinked and suddenly it was time to get up?

That's how I feel this morning. When my alarm went off at 6.30am I answered my clock like a phone, convinced someone was calling me in the middle of the night, which was made even more bizarre by the fact that I don't really use the phone.

Then on waking a bit more, I didn't check my emails or Twitter as I usually do, as I convinced I had just done that. I had indeed, but 6 hours ago.

I didn't eat breakfast either as my body is still convinced it's only just had dinner. What is going on?

Where did my sleep go? And more worryingly, how am I going to get through today?

Anyway, what I really want to talk about subtitles – something I haven't had a proper moan about in a long time. And the reason why I haven’t been moaning? Well, I think I've just become accepting of the substandard quality of them. I've learnt to not get frustrated by them during the news, or sports, or comment programs. Mainly because I've stopped watching them. Aside from BBC Breakfast, I no longer rely on TV to keep me up to date on current affairs, I rely on the Internet.

But last night, after a body conditioning class with the Singing Swede, and while eating dinner at hers, it was her turn to remark on the subtitle quality. And this was on a prerecorded programme on Channel 4.

In fact, the subtitles were so far behind, we had to give up watching Gok and his clothing roadshow, as I had no clue what was going on.

'In Sweden this just wouldn't happen,' she told me. 'The subtitles are seamless and matched to the dialogue, even on live programmes.'

Imagine that? Decent subtitles! I wonder if Sweden and other countries that show programmes in foreign languages have to provide good subtitles because otherwise the whole TV-watching nation would be up in arms? I mean, this is not just a service for deaf people over there, it's a service for everyone.

But this means, that the technology is there for better subtitles surely? And if it, then why aren't we getting it? Why is it acceptable to fob the UK’s deaf population off with spelling errors, text that's so behind it doesn't make sense, and huge gaps where it has to play catch up?

I spend my whole non-TV watching life playing ‘Guess What's Going On’ and trying to make sure I’m following things, surely my TV watching shouldn't be the same, especially when in this instance the subtitles should simply be following a script?

Unless things improve, I think that deaf people should be able to pay a reduced licence fee – we simply do not get the same service as hearing people, so why should we have to pay for it?

Anyone fancy joining me in my campaign?


Anonymous said...

Yes please.

It looks like someone from Sweden needs to come over to the uk, and give lessons to appropiate people on how subtitles should be done.

Deborah said...

And when that person from Sweden is done with the UK, please send him or her to the US!

Kate Pick said...

Agreed on so many levels - just recently things seem to have got worse with whole sections of dialogue being missed out (digital upgrade maybe?) I completely lost the plot in DR Who last week - not happy!

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