SOVO Technologies Inc , a Montreal-based supplier of turnkey services and technology innovator in the field of closed captioning for the hearing impaired, has launched a compliance program aimed at enabling Canadian broadcasters to meet their new obligations related to French closed captioning. This initiative follows a decision  by the CRTC on February 21st to impose mandatory standards for French-language closed captioning as a condition of license to broadcasters, notably regarding the captioning of live programs. These new obligations came into effect on September 1st 2012.
“We are proud to support the efforts made by the CRTC and the broadcasters to improve the quality of closed captioning for the hearing impaired,” said Serge Forest, President and CEO of SOVO. “We are convinced that these measures will significantly enhance the quality of live captions produced on numerous networks, and this for the benefit of the entire hard-of-hearing and deaf community.”
Existing SOVO customers will have access to new services to support them in meeting the new conditions of licence. SOVO will also offer consultation services for broadcasters not using their live captioning services, but who need assistance in determining their level of compliance to the new standards. The challenges brought to the broadcasters by the new standards can be found mainly at three levels: operational, administrative and technology.
“From an operational standpoint, the new standards will require broadcasters (or their suppliers) to actively manage the captioners’ performance, in order to ensure they meet all technical requirements at all times, notably regarding accuracy, maximal delays, and outflow of live captions,” said Julie Brousseau, Vice-President of Production at SOVO. “One must ensure that all captioners have the training, tools and support required to meet the new standards. Also, new complementary services such as rapid corrections of captions originally produced live for the purpose of re-broadcast will have to be added to certain broadcasters’ operations.”
From an administrative standpoint, broadcasters will have to produce monthly reports on live captioning accuracy, as well as progress reports on efforts to improve captioning quality every two years. Broadcasters will also have to respond to complaints and commentaries from the community and/or regulatory bodies regarding their support of the mandatory quality standards. SOVO will offer services to fully support their customers in treating all of the administrative requirements.
“From a technology point of view, the different options for live closed captioning in French do not all perform equally,” declared Dominic Lavoie, Vice-President of Technology at SOVO. “Certain technologies, among the most widely used, will be challenged in meeting certain performance requirements, notably regarding the speed of captioning and the maximal transmission delays for live programs with a high rate of speech, such as debates or other programs. Certain systems, as opposed to what is required by the mandatory standards, are not capable of keeping up with the flow of conversations in certain programs. SOVO can cost effectively enable broadcasters in such situations to fully meet their requirements.”
SOVO’s compliance program, available now, consolidates the company’s position as the reference for French live closed captioning  in Canada.