Philippine Senator and action movie star Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. filed a landmark bill addressing barriers on access to information. Senate Bill 2872 or Closed Caption Bill which he filed last November 12 requires news programs on television to broadcast with sub-title or captioned.
This is a welcome news especially for people like me who actively campaign for equal rights to information through the aid of technology. TV captions is of greater importance because of its wider audience reach. In my case, I advocate for closed captioning on web videos or films that are shown on the Internet.
Captioning does not only benefit the deaf. Other people such as those who want to learn new language, those who are starting to learn how to read and those who are in a noisy environment would also profit from it.
Although this is a very welcome development, certain issues must be considered in implementing this bill. The most important is the language that will be used. Most schooled Filipino deaf don’t understand the Tagalog vernacular. Since popular news broadcasts are in this format, adding captions won’t be of big help to them. That is why some deaf communities advocate for sign language inset instead of this.
I hope the good senator would instigate further consultations especially to the affected sector. I’m sure the deaf community would be very glad to assist him.
Here is Senator Revilla’s press release:
REVILLA FILES CLOSED CAPTION BILL
To ensure equal access of deaf Filipinos to public information, Senator Bong Revilla today filed a bill that would require all television networks to put closed captions in their news programs.
In his speech during the National Conference on Sustainable Partnership1for Deaf Transformation held today (Wednesday, November 12, 2008) at the Ople Hall of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), the senator said there is an estimated 4.5 million deaf Filipinos, most of them poor,who have no access to programs that will help them realize their full potentials. “This is a very sad reality and government makes it worse by turning a blind eye to this fact. This is our biggest hurdle, and we will transcend this if we, the private sector and the government, work together and share in this responsibility,” said Revilla, chairman of the Senate Committee on Public Information and Mass Media.
Revilla stressed that all Filipinos should have equal rights guaranteed under the Constitution. “One of these rights that particularly elude the deaf is access to information. We must uphold Section . 7 of our Constitution that says the right of the people to information on matters of public concern shall be recognized,” he explained.
In pushing for an equal access to public information of deaf and hard of hearing Filipinos, Revilla simultaneously filed Senate Bill 2872 that would oblige all franchise holders or operators of television networks or stations and producers of television news programs to have these news programs broadcast with closed caption.
Closed-captioning refers to the method of subtitling television programs by coding statements as vertical interval data signal that are decoded at the receiver and superimposed at the bottom of the television screen.
Under the bill, any owner or operator of television networks or stations and any producer of television news programs who shall violate the requirement shall be punished by a fine of not less than Fifty Thousand Pesos (P50,000.00) but not more than One Hundred Thousand Pesos (PlOO,OOO.OO) or ,by imprisonment of not less than six (6) months but not more than one (1) year or both such fine and imprisonment at the discretion of the court.
If the offender is a corporation, partnership or association, or any other judicial person, the president, manager, administrator or the person-in-charge of the management of the business shall be liable therefore. In addition, the license or permit to operate the business shall be canceled.
“The passage of this bill will address the constitutional mandate for the state to recognize the basic right of the people to information on matters of public concern,” Revilla pointed out.