Louisiana Duopoly Live Captions High-Volume Local News With ENCO

Shreveport, Louisiana-based KTBS-TV3 (ABC) and KPXJ-TV21 (CW) needed a more streamlined and cost-efficient method of meeting FCC captioning requirements. The stations are owned by locally-based KTBS LLC as a duopoly with CW affiliate KPXJ. The owners signed KTBS on the air in 1955.

Upon evaluation of several captioning products, the evaluation team at KTBS, LLC. found the ENCO Systems enCaption4 automated closed captioning system to be the perfect fit for the Shreveport duopoly.

“The trend in broadcast TV today is towards producing more live, unscripted content,” said Bob Shafer, Assistant Chief Engineer for KTBS/KPXJ. “Between our KTBS and KPXJ operations, we’re producing 51 hours of local news programming per week—including 8.5 hours daily plus 8.5 hours on the weekends—much of which contains unscripted, impromptu content. We can now manage this high production volume because enCaption4 automates closed captioning which satisfies strict FCC mandates.”

Before acquiring enCaption4, KTBS and KPXJ used a teleprompter-driven method, known as Electronic Newsroom Technique (ENT), to convert the dialogue on a teleprompter script into on-screen captions. This method only displays scripted teleprompter copy read by anchors or delivered in pre-produced news packages. Portions of shows that feature informal banter, field reporting, or other extemporaneous presentations aired without captions. This was not only a less efficient workflow, but the technology grew problematic as the FCC and hearing advocacy groups pushed the industry for more complete and accurate captions.

“There are many reasons why enCaption4 was the best fit for our needs,” Shafer said. “Considering the high volume of local content we produce, enCaption4 is more cost effective than contracting human stenography-based captioning services. It’s always ready to go, which is especially valuable for breaking news and weather. This speech-to-text system’s artificial intelligence can correctly spell unusual words, such as the names of our local parishes, that it learned based on ingested lists and scripts. And it doesn’t require the creation of speech pattern profiles for every person speaking, including anchors, reporters, meteorologists, and studio guests.”

More importantly, Shafer noted, enCaption4 produces highly accurate captioning, especially compared to their spotty, teleprompter-driven system. In their workflow, enCaption4 then sends the same caption data to two DTV closed captioning encoders, which embed the captions into the program video for broadcast.

On rare occasions where two local shows go to air at the same time, enCaption4 handles the flagship over-the-air signal, while the other program audio—typically for a secondary DTV channel or Over-the-Top (OTT) live-streams—switches to the alternate teleprompter-driven captions path. While one enCaption4 is sufficient to meet most of their current needs, Shafer expects they will eventually acquire a second unit to handle their growing slate of live, local content.

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