Viki, Marlee Team to Promote Online Captioning

TV streaming site Viki is teaming with actress Marlee Matlin on a new campaign, the Billion Words March to advocate for closed captioning of online video here and abroad, according to a representative of the company.

The campaign is tied to the FCC's request for comments on its Feb. 20 vote to require broadcasters and cable operators to make their best efforts to improve the quality of closed captions and whether qualitative standards are needed. Comments are due April 28.

Viki streams TV shows in more than 150 languages and has content deals with NBCU, A&E, TBS and BBC among others, according to Viki.

Matlin, who is deaf, won an Oscar as best actress for Children of a Lesser God and has had numerous TV roles including a continuing role on The West Wing.

The goal of the campaign is to insure "complete and accurate" online captions. “It’s not just a few people who need this. We’re talking about hundreds of millions of people around the world who are deaf and hard of hearing but who deserve access to entertainment, no matter what language they speak,” said Matlin in a statement.

Viki wants to collect supporters as well as encourage online programmers to do more captioning.

The FCC is requiring captioning of full-length online video re-aired from broadcast or cable, but so far not to web-original video or video clips.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.