Shreveport Duopoly Live Captions Newscasts With ENCO

KTBS (ABC) and KPXJ (CW) Shreveport, La. (DMA 86), needed a more streamlined and cost-efficient method of meeting FCC mandates for closed captions. After evaluating several captioning products, the evaluation team at KTBS LLC. chose ENCO’s enCaption4 automated closed captioning system.

“The trend in broadcast TV today is towards producing more live, unscripted content,” said Bob Shafer, assistant chief engineer for KTBS-KPXJ. “Between our KTBS and KPXJ operations, we’re producing 51 hours of local news programming per week —I ncluding 8.5 hours daily plus 8.5 hours on the weekends — much of which contains unscripted, impromptu content. We can now manage this high production volume because enCaption4 automates closed captioning which satisfies strict FCC mandates.”

Prior to acquiring enCaption4, KTBS-KPXJ used a teleprompter-driven method, known as Electronic Newsroom Technique (ENT), to convert the dialogue on a teleprompter script into on-screen captions. This method only displays scripted teleprompter copy read by anchors, or delivered in pre-produced news packages. Therefore, portions of shows that feature informal banter, field reporting, or other extemporaneous presentations air without captions. This was not only a less efficient workflow, but the technology grew problematic as the FCC and hard-of-hearing advocacy groups pushed the industry for more complete and accurate captions.

“There are many reasons why enCaption4 was the best fit for our needs,” Shafer said. “Considering the high volume of local content we produce, enCaption4 is less expensive than contracting human stenography-based captioning services. It’s always ready to go, which is especially valuable for breaking news and weather. This speech-to-text system’s artificial intelligence can correctly spell unusual words, such as the names of our local parishes, that it learned based on ingested lists and scripts. And it doesn’t require the creation of speech pattern profiles for every person speaking, including anchors, reporters, meteorologists, and studio guests.”

More importantly, Shafer said, enCaption4 produces highly accurate captioning, especially compared to their spotty, teleprompter-driven system. In their workflow, enCaption4 then sends the same caption data to two DTV closed captioning encoders, which embed the captions into the program video for broadcast.

On rare occasions where two local shows happen to air at the same time, enCaption4 handles the flagship over-the-air signal, while the other program audio — typically for a secondary DTV channel or OTT live streams — switches to the alternate teleprompter-driven captions path. While one enCaption4 is sufficient to meet most of their current needs, Shafer expects they will eventually buy a second unit to handle their growing slate of live, local content.

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