Rear Window Captioning drops license fee

Friday, 22 March 2013 09:10am

One of the most established cinema closed caption systems, Rear Window Captioning (RWC), is going to be more cost effective for cinemas to install. Celebrating its 20th Anniversary, RWC’s developer, the National Center for Accessible Media, announced it will do away with its license fee in support of the entertainment industry.

RWC made its debut in 1997 as part of regular feature film presentations in American movie theatres, allowing people with hearing loss to attend movies and view captions on a personal screen. The device replicates the look of open captions by displaying captions on clear Perspex which is placed between the viewer and the screen.

Since 1997, RWC has extended its service to over 400 screens across the United States. The pioneering technology paved the way for other movie captioning services, such as Doremi’s CaptiView, Sony’s Entertainment Access Glasses and USL’s Closed Captioning System. This healthy competition in the digital cinema market gives exhibitors a choice of systems that complement their existing technologies and serve their customer base.

The dropping of RWC’s licence fee(understood to have been several thousand dollars per screen) is promising on several fronts:

  1. It shows that increasing competition between closed caption systems is driving costs down.
  2. The work on standardising  digital access formats (in which one of RWC’s developers, Larry Goldberg, played a significant role) means that cinemas are not locked into one system only, as shown in our report on cinema technology [DOC 2.34MB].
  3. It should encourage cinemas to look at tried and tested technologies that have been developed and upgraded, rather than assuming that the latest device is superior to all that came before it. 

RWC’s move to drop its licence fee will present a significant saving to multiplex cinemas required to install access equipment across numerous screens. Where RWC has traditionally been more costly compared to its rivals, it is now part of a more level playing field.

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