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Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Why I Watch Channel 13 WHAM News (And it's not for the reason you think)

Most of my friends know I worked at Channel 10 WHEC for 32 years, until my position was eliminated in September, 2014.  While I still enjoy seeing my former colleagues on WHEC's news programs from time to time, the little bit of watching TV news these days is with their primary competitor, Channel 13 WHAM.  You might think it's due to bitterness over how my termination with my former employer was handled.

That's not the case.  I watch Channel 13 WHAM because they have the only news program in town with live closed captioning.  Due to my being hard of hearing, I rely heavily on closed captioning when I watch TV.  Most stations in town use scripted captioning.  It's terrible!  There are often gaps in captioning from late-breaking stories and live shots, and sometimes the teleprompter operator scrolls through the script quickly, making it impossible for a user of captioning at home to keep up with it.  Weather segments are usually scripted with just the forecast.  You don't get to read what the meteorologist is actually saying.  Weather people have personalities!  It would be nice to see what they say in captioned form!

With live captioning, everything that is said gets captioned.  All of the above, plus the ad-libbed conversation between anchors.

During my years at WHEC, I had occasional meetings with the former General Manager to try to convince him that WHEC should switch to live captioning.  His response was, "We are in compliance."

"Compliance?"  That's the ultimate corporate cop-out.  Never mind the fact that Rochester, NY has the highest percentage of Deaf and Hard of Hearing people in the U.S.  As far as I'm concerned, it was a missed opportunity to gain those people as dedicated viewers.

If you're not someone who uses closed captioning, try this:  Watch channel 8 or 10 news for awhile with the sound off and the captioning on.  See how much you miss.  Then watch channel 13 and see how much better the live captioning is.

I don't have any statistics to see if WHAM's ratings have gone up since they switched to live captioning, but I bet they have.  They've got me as a dedicated viewer now.

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