Open Mike - Broadcasting & Cable

Open Mike

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Gay Buying Power Distorted?

Editor: While it is great that Logo will finally be addressing a
long-neglected gay audience [“Logo a Go,” 6/27, page 29], I must question
one dubious number that is tossed out by Witeck-Combs Communications in the
article on Logo's launch.

Specifically, the “projected $610 billion discretionary income” for
gay/lesbian consumers stretches credibility. While no one knows the exact
number of gay and lesbian adults in the U.S., research that I've seen
suggests that number is unlikely to be more than 15 million. Dividing $610
billion into 15 million people suggests that the average discretionary income
for a gay/lesbian adult in the U.S. is at least $40,000 per year. While
impressive, this inflated figure is unlikely to be accurate.

Maybe those who promulgate inflated estimates of gay/lesbian income and
wealth believe that they are doing the gay and lesbian population a favor.
Unfortunately, it is more likely that these numbers will harm marketing efforts
by creating grossly unrealistic expectations.

The reality is that the gay/lesbian market is a large, desirable
market—but perhaps not quite as valuable as some would like us to
believe.

Thomas Desmond, Plano, Texas

Captioning at Unheard-Of Prices

Editor: In your June 6 edition, Bill McConnell wrote about the
captioning of emergency announcements on TV [“More Than Meets the Eye, page
12]. Unfortunately, he severely overstated the cost of this critically
important service. Live captioning typically costs less than $150 per hour,
nowhere near the $4,000 per hour predicted by your writer.

The rates quoted for prerecorded programming appear to be from the
1980s. Live-captioning rates have always been significantly lower, not higher,
than prerecorded-captioning rates.

The Accessible Media Industry Coalition (AMIC) shares the concerns of
the broadcasting industry and the viewers who rely on closed captioning about
emergency captioning and the quality of the captioning service. To that end,
our 26 members—captioning, subtitling and video-description providers—at
our meeting this past May, began a dialogue with a representative of NAB
regarding emergency captioning for its member stations.

To the benefit of the broadcast industry, captioning prices have fallen
dramatically over the past 15 years, especially since the FCC mandate of 1998
spurred increased competition.

This issue was further addressed in your June 27 edition in an Open Mike
from William T. Hayes [“All About Eyes, Ears and Errors, “ page 38], who
seems to feel that the need for emergency captioning is overstated. He talks
about distributing video from a “deaf church.” Religious programming may
save the souls of deaf people, but captioned emergency announcements will save
their lives. Studies have shown that viewers who are deaf receive the urgent
access they need to news and information if live captions are 98% accurate or
better.

Jeff Hutchins, chairman, Accessible Media Industry
Coalition, Pittsburgh

(AMIC represents 26 companies that provide a variety of
captioning services.)

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