When watching TV feels more trouble than it’s worth…

By | October 25, 2021

If you watch TV – either live or on catch-up – I’ve got a couple of snippets to share with you today.

Channel 4’s accessibility woes continue

For any of you who rely on subtitles, audio descriptions or sign language on your TV programmes, the last few weeks might have been very frustrating.  At the end of September, there was a fire at a building used by both Channel Four and Channel Five that damaged the systems that add subtitles and other accessibility support.

To be honest, I’d expected them to have everything back up and running before now, but fixing this is a big deal, apparently.  Both channels have been adding subtitles manually to their most popular programmes, but audio descriptions and sign language translation haven’t been available at all.

The good news is that they’re busy building a new system to handle all this properly again, and that subtitles have been manually added to all the programmes on the catch-up services All4 and My5.  The bad news is that Channel Four’s new system isn’t likely to be fully up and running until mid-November. This weekend they announced that subtitles should be up and running on pretty much everything now, but no audio descriptions yet.

Accessibility support on BBC and ITV channels haven’t been affected, though (thankfully!)

But ITV have their own problems

I have to confess to being a bit of a mystery and whodunnit fan when it comes to TV – I love it all, from Cadfael to Silent Witness.  My husband and I tend not to watch things like this live, though (it’s tricky around children and chores).  We watch them later, on catch-up.

The biggest problem with watching them later is that a lot of the shows we like are long, at least an hour and sometimes two hours, and most of them are on ITV.  

It’s fine if we’ve got time to watch the programme all in one go (the adverts on ITV Hub can get a bit repetitive and annoying, but we just go and make a cup of tea or whatever) but if we have to stop part way through and come back to it another day, it drives me up the wall.  What happens when you start playing it again is that you get a set of adverts, then maybe half a second of the programme, then another full set of adverts!

We’ve got into the habit of just setting it going, putting the TV on mute so we don’t have to listen to it, then doing something else for 10 or 15 minutes.  By the time we come back, it should be just about ready to start playing.

Generally, online TV services can be a bit shaky like this – whether that’s whole advert breaks playing twice, the sound going out of sync with the picture, or the video suddenly freezing when your internet connection is fine.  So the moral of the story is, if something weird happens, don’t assume you’ve done anything wrong!  Often, if something goes wrong with the picture or sound, pausing, rewinding a few seconds and trying again will help.

Happy watching.

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