“Own A Business with a TV in Portland? Fire Up that Closed Captioning.”

“Every public place in [Portland, Oregon] with a television set will have to display closed captioning during business hours beginning next month, or face the specter of hundreds or thousands in fines.
… advocates for the deaf cheered, and restaurant lobbyists shook their heads in frustration.” The Portland City Council vote was unanimous. [Dirk VanderHart, Portland Mercury]


  • Is the closed captioning going to be exclusively in English? Portland is a progressive multi-ethnic city. How is it fair for deaf Hmong(to pick just one of the myriad of ethnic Portlandians) to be bombarded with text he cannot comprehend? In fact it seems downright cruel. I hope Portland amends the law to mandate multiple closed captioning feeds on every public television. A wall of text is small price to pay for fairness.

    • The obvious reply to that is that the captions are in the language that the speaker is in, and that lack of English skills is not a disability. The deaf Hmong is in the same boat as the hearing Hmong.

      But it’s still a bad idea. For sports programming in particular, captioning is stupid. It’s either going to cover the action, or it’s going to cover some infographic being shown on the screen – and the captions for anything live always suck, being both delayed and inaccurate. You’d know more about what was going on from looking at what’s normally shown than from reading the captions.

      But it’s also just one more thing. One more “gotcha” for anyone who wants to open a restaurant. One more thing you have to train your employees on, lest they disable the captions upon request.

  • This is unfair to normal hearing people. Most restaurants turn the sound all the way down so the situation is already fair. If they insist on CC, then they also need to insist that the volume be turned up so all can hear.

  • Seems like there is a simple potential solution. Have someone track down these council members cell phone numbers, and sports bars can post prominent signs pointing out who is responsible for the requirement and how you can directly contact.them to make your views on the issue known.

    Give the nannystate idiots a few months of input from typical sports bar patrons during peak sporting times.

  • Mr. Jt: “sports bars can post prominent signs pointing out who is responsible for the requirement and how you can directly contact.them to make your views on the issue known.”

    While I do not think your suggestion is either wrong or unfair, anyone operating a place of public assembly in a city, such as this sports bar, would recognize that an open challenge to the politicians might result in an immediate visit from health inspectors and building inspectors. Some violation would be found, it’s inevitable.

  • If they had made the law state that *if* a person requested that CC be turned on, and only if the sound was also audible to the other customers, then they must enable CC, but otherwise they can keep it off, I wouldn’t have too much of a problem with it. (I still believe they have no business interfering here – let the hearing impaired complain to the management, and if they don’t get resolution, take their business to a place that’s more accommodating to them – in other words, let the free market prevail.) But this is typical nanny-statism.