Tuesday, February 24, 2004

It Sucks, but its not Censorship

There has been a lot of outrage recently bout the governments decision to only fund closed caption “educational” programs. This means that show that are not deemed so will no longer be captioned. The NAD, among others are crying censorship. I never thought I’d side with the Bush administration, but feeling both polemic and contrarian this morning I'll go ahead and play The Great Satan's Advocate.

The US government is not in the business of entertaining people. They are however (allegedly) in the business of "educating" and "informing" people. Yes, yes, all information is knowledge and anything can become a teaching/ learning situation. Even NASCAR I suppose. But the government doesn't sponsor me teaching my brother how to calculate OPS or WHIP while we're at a baseball game just because I say I'm teaching math. The government choosing to sponsor programs they deem educational or informational isn't censorship. The programs are still there.

It would be nice if the mystery panel would agree to caption Sports Center, but television is a market driven industry. The rest of us don't expect the government to subsidize reruns of our favorite shows just because we like them. The industry survives off advertising so allow me to suggest another option. Networks begin to caption their programs with advertising money. I don't know all the costs involved, but it may be in the best interest of the network, the NFL, MLB, and Hannah-Barbara to go ahead and caption the programs themselves. If not they risk losing viewers. I know plenty of Deaf people in that key male 18-45 demographic, and their money's just as good as anyone else's, if people hurt the advertisers they'll get their captioning.

In conclusion, entertainment is a private business, not a government function. If the government decided to caption all media I would be fine with that. As it is, I don't really care about Mars, and I wish we would stop fighting all these dang wars, at the same time its faulty to say that its NASA or captioning. It could very well be captioning or help for the homeless; captioning or school lunches, captioning or health care (I know we don't really have health care). The point is, captioning Scooby-Doo isn't the first thing I thought of when I mailed off my taxes.

Everything should be accessible as far as quality of life goes, but who incurs the cost may be a separate issue. The rest of us get TV for "free" thanks to advertisers, not the government. Maybe it’s not too much to ask for captioning to be the same way. We can all vote with our wallets. If the networks, or the NFL want money for captioning they can get it from advertisers. Not to mention, if it becomes a private sector issue, what network or company wants to be known as the one that refused to caption its programs? The major sports leagues are too image conscious for that and the networks should follow suit. Of course any programming that does get public money should have to be captioned as well.

No comments:

Post a Comment