Monday, December 7, 2015


The frailties of the BBC's live subtitling system have been exposed in recent sporting coverage. On Match of The Day last month, when Everton were entertaining (and beating) Aston Villa, the commentator noted the visitors' Life President in the stands with the words  'Great to see Doug Ellis here in his Villa scarf". The subtitle, if you'd selected it, read "Great to see Doug Ellis here with Hezbollah".

Last night we had the UK Snooker Championship final on BBC2. After a miscued ball was pocketed, commentator John Virgo exclaimed, according to the text, "Where's the Tube all gone? Snoopers required, snoopers required!"

The subtitling system, dubbed by Auntie "live respeaking", uses voice recognition technology. Perhaps, if it also featured some predictive text program, targeted at the sport it was being used for, key phrases used in the various games could be loaded in advance, and the "news" element of computer guessing turned off.

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