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Rather-Bush Exchange Challenged First Night’s Captioning Efforts With AM-Rather-Bush Bjt

January 26, 1988

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Dan Rather’s interview with Vice President George Bush challenged the skill of National Captioning Institute workers who were adding captions for the hearing-impaired to the CBS evening newscast for the first time that night, an institute spokesman said Tuesday.

With Monday night’s broadcast, the CBS news show became the third evening newscast to be captioned for the benefit of the deaf and hearinge institute has been captioning live events since 1982, Monday night’s inaugural run for the CBS show tested its workers’ skills, said Don Thieme, a spokesman for the institute.

″When you get a quick paced back and forth between one speaker and another, it is probably one of the most demanding challenges when you’re doing ‘real-time’ captioning,″ he said.

The institute received telephone calls Tuesday about the CBS broadcast, he said, but the callers simply praised the captioning effort and did not take sides on what became an emotional exchange between Rather and Bush.

″They said it was exciting to be able to understand the exchange ... and be able to form their own opinion,″ he said.

The institute, a nonprofit company, developed the technology for captioning live events in 1982. The technology allows printed captions to be broadcast with only a couple of seconds’ delay from the time the words are spoken.

The captions can be picked up only by TV sets that are equipped with a decoder, which sells for about $200. About 180,000 homes are equipped with such decoders, including senior citizen centers and nursing homes, Thieme said.

The institute began captioning ABC’s evening newscast later that year and added NBC’s last year. The institute now captions more than 28 hours of regularly scheduled news and public affairs programming each week, he said.

The technology requires captioning teams to listen to a program and simultaneously type phonetically what they hear into a computer-assisted stenographic machine.

The machine sends the phonetic impulses through a computer, which translates them into words and phrases, which are then sent over phone lines to the TV network and are incorporated into the network’s broadcast signal.

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