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August 26, 2013
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Nevada City-based Telestream purchases caption company, expands services

Local video content and programming company Telestream will provide better caption services to customers after the purchase of a leading caption company, CPC.

The acquisition that took place last week not only expands the services Telestream offers but prepares for upcoming Federal Communications requirements that programs that are broadcast online must include closed captions, described by the FCC as the visual display of the audio portion of video programming.

“It’s a very hot topic and challenging situation for broadcasters and people creating content,” said Telestream President and CEO Dan Castles, something he said the addition of CPC’s services will improve.

“By us taking one more step out on the limb of including the actual making of the captions and how they automate, how they flow, we are going to offer more value for our customers.”

The CPC acquisition is one of four in the past several years, including Popware in 2006, Vara Software in 2008 and Anystream in 2010, said Telestream Marketing Communications Manager Janet Swift, adding that the CPC acquisition will further bolster Telestream .

“We’re one of the few companies that is making a profit and growing, which is not the case with other places in our industry,” she said. “It shows the video business is continuing to grow in Nevada County.”

Captioned programs are sent around the world but sometimes break down or provide too much delay between the video content and the caption, something CPC specializes in preventing, Castles said.

“It’s been a little bit of a science project for a while and CPC has been doing it for years,” he said. “They are known throughout the industry and have an intuitive feel and understanding of what’s required to do captions the right way.”

CPC, based out of Maryland, is now dissolved and part of Telestream, and all employees have been moved into Telestream’s Virginia office.

The takeover not only benefits Telestream, but will allow the CPC services to reach a broader range of customers, as the former CPC company was relatively small and offered no direct sales, Castles said.

“They’ve been like a lot of small companies, resource-constrained, and we bring a lot of power, and we will take what they do and leverage and expand it.”

Telestream’s ownership of the company and products is a big benefit to CPC’s existing customers, Swift said.

“They are going to get a much higher level of support from Telestream. The products will get a lot more attention and will certainly be developed faster than previously.”

The FCC adopted caption requirement rules Jan. 12, 2012, that all captioned programs shown on TV must be captioned when reshown on the Internet as part of the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010, according to the FCC website.

The new rules include full-length video programming, with the exclusion of video clips and outtakes, except when a captioned TV program is reshown on the Internet in segments that include substantial portions of the entire program.

Online consumer-generated media, such as YouTube videos, are not required to be captioned unless it has been shown on TV with captions, and movies are not required to be captioned unless they have been shown on TV with captions.

As of March 30, 2013, live and near-live video programming, described as that performed and recorded less than 24 hours before being shown on TV for the first time, must be captioned on the Internet if shown on TV with captions on or after that date, according to the FCC website.

Telestream Chief Technical Officer Shawn Carnahan described live and nonlive captioning as completely different processes.

The challenge with live captioning is that there is no opportunity to go back and fix any mistakes, he said, and somebody has to type in the captions as they are spoken or use voice recognition technology.

“Quite commonly a program will air live, be recorded and then be put on the Web for on-demand consumption later and between the live airing, and when it’s posted for On Demand, you have the opportunity to go back and fix the captions.”

The caption text can come from a script, from somebody sitting down and manually typing it with the use of a professional stenographer, or with voice recognition software which turns speech into text, Carnahan said.

“If you’ve ever seen live captions on a program and half the words are wrong, a lot of times it’s the problem of trying to recognize exactly what the speaker is saying,” he said. “If the software is not trained to listen to that talent (actor) or if they mumble or have an accent, the software makes mistakes.”

A lot of programming that is shown on television has already been captioned using a script or a person who types what the characters say, which are then imprinted on the programming so the television displays the words.

“It’s not just about the creation of captions, it’s the timing and the placement and material to make it all work, and that is not easy,” said Swift.

“Captioning live is a much different beast. You can’t not have a lag, you just try to minimize the lag as much as you can, typically three or four seconds, and you will have a situation where the captioning is scrolled on the TV after they cut away to a different shot.”

The FCC requirements have driven the relevance for captions, which allow for more accessibility worldwide, Swift said.

“Obviously the more places you can put the content, the better,” she said.

“It’s certainly good for our business. It also dovetails nicely with what our products do anyway, reformatting content for devices, formatting audio or video, and now we are a provider of captioning tools (as well).”

To contact Staff Writer Jennifer Terman, email jterman@theunion.com or call 530-477-4230.


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The Union Updated Aug 26, 2013 12:47AM Published Aug 27, 2013 11:20AM Copyright 2013 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.