“Language & Compliance” – Challenges in Subtitling and Closed Captioning from an Asia-Pacific Perspective

Languages and compliance challenges in subtitling and closed captioning from an asia pacific persepctive

If you are a broadcaster or a media company that delivers content globally in multiple platforms; one of the major challenging broadcast functions to execute is the incorporation of subtitles or closed captions on to your media content. Let us look at the factors that contribute to this concern in the Asia Pacific region.

From an Asia-Pacific perspective, major challenges in closed captioning/subtitling come from the language and regulation standpoint.

English captioning or subtitling remains a challenge because of the multitude of languages in which content are created across this region. One of the major challenges for captioning service providers is to hire resources with appropriate language capabilities who can translate local languages to provide English captions. The same remains a challenge when English-language content has to be captioned or subtitled in local languages; while direct translations from English subtitles or captions are used, often they don’t convey the intended message.

Nowadays, caption providers are excessively dependent on machine translation tools; these tools however have their own limitations. For instance, they often fail to capture elements like word emphasis, sarcasm, subtle delivery of a dialogue piece, etc. that are very important for viewers to completely understand the essence of their favorite programs. This calls for manual edits on these machine-translated subtitles/captions, and it is important for the resources to have thorough knowledge and context of cultural nuances of the region.

For an automated tool to give good accuracy, it needs to have real powerful artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) capabilities. It also takes considerable amount of time for these automated tools to leverage AI & ML capabilities to give better accuracy as it needs to have tons of data to go in to train the system. For captioning service providers, a workflow that could connect multiple locations and home users without losing focus on content security could be a method that they can adopt to tackle this challenge effectively.

Compliance is another tricky aspect the caption providers find difficulty in navigating across the Asia Pacific region. Regulations around captioning or subtitling vary between geographies and industries. It is highly challenging for caption providers to run captions or subtitles that comply with these regulations. There are tools that are under development that are intended to help with the compliance difference across regions and industries. We will have to wait and watch how these tools shape up to effectively tackle compliance variations.