July 15, 2002
Zenith/WGBH Demonstrate HDTV with Closed Captioning
Zenith launches digital high definition televisions (HDTVs) with digital closed captioning capability, partners with WGBH to demonstrate new technology
Boston, MA — The first digital high-definition television (HDTV) sets incorporating advanced new digital closed caption capability are rolling off the production lines, consistent with the July 1 Federal Communications Commission (FCC) deadline.
A driving force behind both digital television (DTV) and closed captions, Zenith Electronics Corporation has begun production of digital HDTVs capable of providing digital closed captioning services to deaf and hard of hearing viewers. Unlike analog closed captions, digital caption capability (based on the EIA-708 standard) provide tremendous flexibility and a new level of user control over caption display — including font style, text size and color, and backgrounds.
Zenith joined with WGBH's National Center for Accessible Media (NCAM) and its DTV Access Project to demonstrate digital closed captioning in the nation's capital. During presentations at back-to-back conferences – the National Association of the Deaf (NAD) 2002 conference and Gallaudet University's Deaf Way II– NCAM demonstrated the first fully implemented EIA-708B caption decoder using Zenith's new integrated HDTVs.
"It's been a long road to finally see an HDTV set with closed captions – and Zenith has been a driving force in setting the standards and getting the equipment on the market," said Larry Goldberg, director of Media Access at WGBH. "We're thrilled to be able to show Zenith's first caption-ready sets to the deaf community at these vitally important events."
Closed-captioned programs created by WGBH were displayed at both events on Zenith's new direct-view digital HDTVs soon to be available at retail: the 34-inch C34W23 Widescreen Integrated HDTV, the 36-inch C36V23 Integrated HDTV, and the 32-inch C32V23, which is the industry's first integrated HDTV priced under $1,500.
In addition to originating one-third of PBS's prime-time programming, WGBH is widely credited with pioneering closed captioning and video descriptions for TV broadcasting. Zenith has worked closely with WGBH in the implementation of digital closed captioning in its HDTVs, just as it did a decade ago with its analog TV products capable of displaying closed captioning.
"As with analog closed captions more than a decade ago, Zenith is proud to pave the way for bringing closed captions into the digital era," said Ken Lee, senior vice president, sales and marketing. "Implementation of flexible new digital closed captions further enhances digital TV's capabilities, making HDTV more accessible to all Americans."
Two years ago the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) declared that consumer electronics manufacturers would be required to include compliant closed- captioning decoder circuitry in digital TV devices as of July 1, 2002. Consumer equipment covered under the FCC Report and Order includes DTV sets with integrated widescreen displays measuring at least 7.8 inches vertically, DTV sets with conventional displays measuring at least 13 inches vertically, and stand-alone DTV tuners.
Closed captioning is an access technology that allows persons with hearing loss to appreciate and understand television programming. Captioning displays the audio portion of programming as text superimposed over the video, and is encoded and transmitted along the video signal of television broadcasts. In order to display closed captions, viewers must either use a TV receiver with integrated decoder circuitry or a set-top decoder.
An early advocate of closed captioning, Zenith was the first manufacturer to introduce analog TVs with built-in Line 21 closed caption capability in 1991. Zenith also was instrumental in building industry support for and securing congressional passage of the Television Decoder Circuitry Act of 1990. That law requires that analog TV receivers with screens 13 inches or larger contain built-in decoder circuitry designed to display closed-captioned transmissions. Zenith also was an early pioneer in hearing aids, developing the industry's first affordable hearing aids beginning in 1938. During World War II, Zenith employed thousands of workers with hearing loss producing hearing aids, the only consumer products Zenith built during the war. In later years, Zenith paved the way to transistorized hearing aids and led the industry crusade on behalf of hard of hearing consumers.
The CPB/WGBH National Center for Accessible Media (NCAM), part of the Media Access Group at Boston public broadcaster WGBH, is leading an unprecedented cross-country effort to enable digital television stations to deliver closed captioning and video description services to individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing, blind or visually impaired.
Through its DTV Access Project (www.dtvaccess.org), NCAM works with broadcasters, professional and consumer electronics manufacturers, and industry standards bodies to support implementation of these vital access services. FCC mandates require all stations to have DTV signals on the air by 2003, while a variety of requirements to transmit and receive closed captioning and video description are now in effect. DTV equipment must support caption reception and display as of July 1, 2002.
NCAM, The Caption Center and the Descriptive Video Service make up the Media Access Group at WGBH, which this year marks three decades as the leader in developing media access solutions which benefit industry and the nation‚s 36 million viewers with sensory disabilities. WGBH Boston is America's preeminent public broadcasting producer. More than one-third of PBS's prime-time lineup and companion Web content as well as many public radio favorites are produced by WGBH. Since its establishment in 1951, WGBH has been recognized with hundreds of honors, including Emmys, Peabodys, du-Pont-Columbia Awards – even two Oscars.
DTV Access project funding is provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting Television Future Fund, the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research/U.S. Department of Education and the NCAM Business Partners Program.
About ZenithZenith Electronics Corporation, founded in 1918, is a leader in digital television technologies and inventor of the U.S. digital HDTV transmission system adopted by the FCC. Zenith's Emmy award winning technologies include digital HDTV, flat-screen CRTs, stereo television and TV remote controls. For 2002, Zenith is capitalizing on its digital HDTV leadership and on the extensive technologies and resources of its parent company, LG Electronics Inc. (LGE). Zenith's corporate headquarters are in Lincolnshire, Ill. Visit Zenith on the Web at http://www.zenith.com.
About WGBHWGBH Boston is America's preeminent public broadcasting producer. More than one-third of PBS's prime-time lineup and companion Web content as well as many public radio favorites are produced by WGBH. Its best-known productions include NOVA, Frontline, American Experience, Antiques Roadshow, ExxonMobil Masterpiece Theatre, This Old House, Arthur, and Zoom on PBS and The World and Sound & Spirit on public radio. WGBH also is a pioneer in educational multimedia and in technologies and services that make media accessible to people with disabilities. Since its establishment in 1951, WGBH has been recognized with hundreds of honors, including Emmys, Peabodys, duPont-Columbia Awards-- even two Oscars. For more information visit http://www.wgbh.org.
ContactsJohn I. Taylor, Zenith
Mary Watkins, Media Access Group at WGBH