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Longer Council meetings mean more $$$ for closed captioning


Are Cincinnati Council meetings and committee sessions getting longer? After a review of data from invoices for closed captioning services, the answer is yes.

From January through October 2013, with 157 hours of meeting time, closed captioning cost $28,119.99.

From January through October 2014, there were 274 hours of meeting time with a captioning cost of $45,906.67.

The budgeted amount this fiscal year (July 2014 to June 2015) for closed captioning is $40,000. With 1st quarter charges, there could be about a $15,000 shortfall at the end of the budget year.

City spokesman Rocky Merz said funding will be found to continue closed captioning.

“This is a critically important service,” Merz said.  “It’s important to have public access for government proceedings.”

Cincinnati-based Maverick Captioning Services provides the service for the city.  The captioning is similar to a stenographer in a courtroom.  A person using a stenography machine provides a transcript of meetings while they are in progress.  The company charges $160 per hour for the service, with a minimum of one hour for each session.  

Closed captioning is displayed on the CitiCable channel, which is shown in the Council chamber to aid the hearing impaired.  The service also provides printed transcripts for the City Clerk of council and committee meetings.

Merz and other city representatives said the closed captioning service is cheaper than providing sign language interpreters for Council meetings.