TranslateTV Gets Into Captioning Game

A start-up company said it will offer programmers a computer-based means to translate English closed-captioning programs into eight foreign languages, at prices far cheaper than conventional translation.

TranslateTV, based in New Albany, Ohio — which operates a Web site with the same name — has tested the product with WBNS-TV in Columbus and with MSNBC, and plans to actively pitch cable networks.

An old cable hand, former Coaxial Communications president and CEO Joel Rudich, recently joined TranslateTV as CEO. Conventional captioning in different languages can cost $100 per half-hour, Rudich said.

By using patented software, TranslateTV provides computer-generated translations for both live and scripted TV for $100 to $150 per day.

TranslateTV can also provide programmers with two advertising benefits, said Rudich. Translated closed captions could improve ratings among such growing markets as the Hispanic audience, he said. And TranslateTV can put ads in the captioned product itself.

"We can embed who the sponsor is," Rudich said. "It's value-added for the advertiser."

TranslateTV has tested both Japanese- and Spanish-language captioning in Columbus, where WBNS-TV is translating about eight hours of programming per day. A test with MSNBC is ongoing, Rudich said.

The other six languages TranslateTV is equipped to caption are Chinese, Korean, French, German, Italian and Portuguese.

Although programmers are Rudich's target audience, cable MSOs who operate their own news networks are also potential clients. Rudich points to Time Warner Cable's NY 1 channel, which reaches a wide Hispanic audience in that city.

Rudich is talking to Vitek, a major closed-captioning company, about a marketing alliance. And TranslateTV plans to be at next week's National Association of Broadcasters convention, he said.