INDIANAPOLIS—WISH-TV is a proud affiliate of The CW Network and delivers the latest breaking news under our News 8 brand. Our owner, Circle City Broadcasting, also owns and operates MyNetworkTV affiliate WNDY-TV (“MyINDY-TV 23”), which provides around-the-clock entertainment, sports and local interest programming to central Indiana viewers.
Until recently, all of our closed captioning was done by human transcribers through a closed-caption service company that would dial in to our caption encoders. The huge amount of local news content we produce—up to 12 hours per day—required a lot of dial-ins. With the rates charged by such services, our captioning costs were very high.
We wanted to find a better way of doing our closed captioning. Our main goal wasn’t necessarily to save money, but more importantly to allow us to caption a larger portion of our content in a more cost-effective manner.
THE EVOLUTION OF CAPTIONING
I had looked at automated speech-to-text technologies around eight years ago, but their accuracy wasn’t good enough at the time. Our chief engineer, Glenn Edwards, kept following automated-captioning technology and read a favorable review of ENCO’s enCaption4 system, which would allow us to caption more of our programs for less money than we were paying for dial-in captioning. So we requested a demo unit for a trial. It worked right out of the box and we were impressed with its accuracy.
The first program we used enCaption4 on was the locally produced TV version of nationally syndicated radio show “The Bob & Tom Show,” which started airing on WNDY in October. Since then, we have expanded our use of enCaption4 across both WNDY and WISH.
enCaption4’s REST API gives us a lot of flexibility in setting up our captioning operations exactly the way we want them and controlling enCaption4 through our own custom software. Our IT developer created an application that runs on a Raspberry Pi platform and enables us to easily start and stop the captioning process.
Our homebrew software also uses GPIOs on the Raspberry Pi to trigger the switching of our AJA KUMO router to the desired SDI source for our enCaption4 system, and to connect enCaption4 to the appropriate downstream caption encoder. In this manner, we can use our single enCaption4 system on our choice of the WISH, WNDY or control room signals.
In addition to its cost efficiency, enCaption4 has also benefited our stations by allowing us to quickly respond to unexpected, last-minute captioning requests. When our newsroom notifies engineering that they have a breaking news special they need captioned, we can just click a button to start captioning and another to stop it when the report is done. It’s a very fast and easy process, and we can get captioning on-air right away without needing to make arrangements with an external service.
enCaption4 has enabled us to expand our closed captioning to nearly everything we do. Having a machine that can handle all of our captioning needs is like a dream come true. I’m impressed with how far the technology has come over the years, specifically enCaption4. We had long hoped that someone would offer speech-to-text capabilities that work accurately enough for our on-air needs, so we could just hit a button and have it work. ENCO has done that with enCaption4.
Mike Selby is staff engineer at WISH-TV. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.