Closed captioning mandate and the GOP: a sad shade of the same

It is hard to say with a straight face that imposing $250 or $500 fines on restaurants or other public businesses that fail to have closed captioning on their televisions is anything less than massive government overreach. But, that  is exactly what the City of Albuquerque just chose to impose on local businesses. Now, we could easily have the “closed captioning police” running around town playing “gotcha’ with people who are just trying to manage their businesses among the thicket of taxes, regulations, and crime issues.

And, like so many misguided policies that have been adopted in Albuquerque, the closed-caption fees are the product of “bi-partisan” action by City Council. Supposed “Republican” (city council is technically non-partisan) councilors Brad Winter and Trudy Jones voted in support of the ordinance (full text here) while Don Harris was absent (vote results here).

With everything going on in our City it is sad that more ridiculous regulations are being imposed by City Council. Sadder still is the fact that supposedly pro-business “Republicans” who (with the exception of the departed Dan Lewis) all supported the ART boondoggle keep pushing right alongside “progressives” like Pat Davis and Isaac Benton for ever more government.

When are closed captions required by law?



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10 Replies to “Closed captioning mandate and the GOP: a sad shade of the same”

  1. Because of ADA “American Disability Act” for hard of hearing and deaf person for access to news and sport informations on TV in public places.

  2. The Foundation’s comments re the new captioning ordinance demonstrate a lack of understanding of the situation and of concern for those with hearing loss. The ADA requires that captions be turned on “on request” in any public venue but that is often not done for a number of valid and sometime invalid reasons. The ADA is, in this instance, unenforceable leaving the estimated 20% of the public with a measurable hearing loss at a disadvantage. Progressing cities like San Francisco and Seattle (and even the entire state of New York) recognize and have addressed the needs of those with a hearing disability. The Rio Grande Foundation seems to prefer to say, “Let them eat cake” and you know what happened to the famed speaker of that response to need.

    1. I certainly don’t want people suffering from hearing loss to be burdened with undue challenges, but I also don’t think this kind of one-size-fits-all mandate is the answer. The last thing Albuquerque needs to do is follow Seattle and San Francisco down the rabbit hole of “progressive” policy.


      1. Mr. Gessing – Thank you for your expression of concern for those who are hearing disabled being burdened with undue challenges. This ordinance is not, as you claim in your opinion piece, a “ridiculous regulation”. Those who are hearing disabled are regularly challenged” through the lack of captions so that we can receive the same information on public TV sets as those with good hearing. We are challenged at public meetings when ADA mandated assistive listening systems are not in place to supplement public address systems. We are challenged when unnecessarily loud background noise or music covers the higher frequency sounds of consonants making speech unintelligible in stores and restaurants. Ours is an invisible disability that is the butt of many jokes but gets little understanding and consideration.

        In the case of the captions, the ADA addresses but does not resolve this problem. Filing a complaint takes months before the Justice Department responds and then they, most often simply choose to take no action. It is violated with impunity at the cost to the hard of hearing of being discriminated against – not allowed the same right to information and entertainment as others in a public venue. Since you consider the ordinance a misguided policy, what solution do you suggest to address the problem?

  3. Mr Gessing

    Please rush me a list of Republican owned businesses so I can stay away from them! If it is too much trouble for them to turn on the captions it is too much trouble for me to shop there.

    1. Feel free to patronize businesses that take special care for those who are hearing disabled. I just don’t think the government should fine and force businesses to offer specific services if they don’t want to or if it is difficult/costly for them to do so.

      1. Gosh Mr. Gessing, I’m sure you are right about how troublesome it is for business owners to set the captions on their televisions in order for those with hearing loss to enjoy broadcasts just as those with good hearing are able to do. I mean, it is SOOOOOOO much work to set the captions on today’s sets (and, of course, once set they do remain set, right?) . Why, it must have taken me 15 seconds per set in my home in order for my husband to have access to captioned broadcasts. As a retired public school educator, I remember hearing folks gripe about the terrible burdens imposed by Federal legislation requiring Special Education provisions in any public district desiring to receive Federal funding for their education systems. And then: some of those folks ended up with kids of their own, or grandkids, with special needs. You can probably guess how their opinions changed. Hope you never have any special needs of your own.

          1. Oh for gosh sakes, given the state of the world today is setting the captions on tv sets in sports bars REALLY something worthy of dissent? Would you have preferred that folks with hearing loss file complaints under the ADA in order to achieve a fairly modest requirement that recognizes their disability? Or lawsuits?
            So, if you ever develop hearing loss my advice to you is to stay out of places that don’t display captions on their sets.

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