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BBC R&D, Ericsson to improve live captioning

2 June 2016
BBC R&D, Ericsson to improve live captioning

BBC Research and Development (BBC R&D) has partnered with Ericsson to develop improved live captioning, which will be rolled out across BBC channels this summer.

The new approach will see latency in live subtitles ‘significantly’ reduced.

Currently, live TV subtitles are plagued by a notable lag resulting in a delayed display on screen. This is caused by the workflow necessary to create live captions, which Ericsson said can be ‘frustrating’ for audiences, and has therefore been subject to complaints and regulatory attention, both in the UK and around the world.

Ericsson’s head of broadcast and media services, Thorsten Sauer, said. “The inherent latency of live caption delivery is a challenge for broadcasters the world over. Our aim has been to improve this experience by leveraging our significant expertise in both language services as well as compression and our overall research in the media space.”

The upgrade is designed to minimise the delay between live captions and the audio they represent by utilising the time taken to compress the audio and video streams for transmission and distribution.

As captions take less time to encode, a compensating delay is used to ensure pre-prepared, accurately authored captions are synchronised with the audio. During programmes with live captions, this compensating delay can be decreased, which significantly reduces the apparent delay of the live captions.

Ericsson and BBC R&D have completed a successful proof of concept and the new approach will begin a phased roll out across the BBC’s portfolio of channels from summer 2016.

Ericsson will also offer this service to clients globally to improve the viewing experience of audiences around the world.

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