BBC Subtitle Fail

Jonathan Barnes - NDCS, articles we’ve been reading this week

Jonathan Barnes, Campaigns Assistant

Buzzfeed and Metro have printed about the latest in a long line of subtitle errors, after the BBC mistakenly used the word ‘rape’ instead of rain during its weather forecast earlier this week. This wasn’t some sick joke, but a technological error.

The articles cover a number of similar past mistakes. Whilst sometimes these typos can be amusing, there is a serious issue too: deaf people rely on subtitling technology to receive information.


With live programmes, such as the weather forecast, we know it is difficult and errors occur. Nobody really thought that the weatherman was talking about rape at Glastonbury, after all. But more can and should be done when it comes to programmes that are filmed well in advance. Ian Noon, Head of Policy and Research at NDCS, has blogged more about this on Limping Chicken.

This is a frequent problem and one that creates yet another barrier for deaf people. Ofcom has started to look into this, but broadcasters must take responsibility for ensuring their work accessible to all.

One thought on “BBC Subtitle Fail

  1. Dear Jonathon
    I represent a company that provide both live captioning for TV stations and classrooms. I have to say that whilst it would be easy for me to criticise the BBC it is possible to make an error if you are re speaking live transmissions. Because we caption for classrooms we employ two staff for each session, one to speak and one to correct typos. Even then we can only get 99% accuracy. The word was very unfortunate but I would be grateful the subtitles were there, so many countries fail to even provide them. God bless the BBC for giving us the occasional
    glitch to mull over.


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