Letter: Engineers strive to solve subtitle hitches

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The Independent Online
Sir: John Gurnsey (letter, 11 January) is entitled to express concern on behalf of deaf viewers of ITV. The service was not up to normal technical standards in the past week and some viewers failed to receive subtitles as transmitted. ITV's engineers and others have worked round the clock to solve the problems. Mr Gurnsey's concern is entirely proper, but is expressed in a way that obscures important factors about which your deaf readers should be aware.

The Broadcasting Act brought about radical changes on 1 January that were technical as well as contractual in their effects. It is true that the regulator, the Independent Television Commission, was not able to renew the contract of the previous subtitles supplier, Oracle. However, ITV took the precaution of re-employing most of Oracle's former subtitling staff to provide subtitles for our network programmes and ITN's service for the deaf. There has been little complaint about their editorial standards.

So, contrary to Mr Gurnsey's opinion, ITV certainly does not treat deaf viewers with disdain. We are proud of our service, which has a high priority both for us and our regulator. However, the deaf audience did suffer the worst effects of the legislation under which broadcasting changes were brought about on 1 January. We deeply regret this and seek to restore the service to the standards this section of our audience is entitled to expect.

Yours faithfully,

PAUL BONNER

ITV Network Centre

London, W1

11 January

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