Hi, folks. Yesterday, I received delivery of a top-rated 1080p HDTV, a 40-inch Samsung, with 120 Hz refresh rate, that I had bought online due to reading very good reviews about this HDTV. I set up the digital, customizable captions on it using yellow text on a black background.
Unfortunately, I discovered a severe problem with WJLA's digital captions on channel 7.1.
Specifically, what I saw happen was the digital captions building up on the screen over time for two different pre-recorded prime-time programs and eventually cluttering up the entire screen. Old captions were staying at the top of the screen and moving up, while new ones were showing up on the bottom. I haven't seen this kind of captioning problem before with any other digital TV equipment.
WJLA's digital captions are also problematic for my 2006 Sharp HDTV, which can't decode them at all. Thus neither of my HDTVs are able to decode digital captions from WJLA even though they can decode digital captions from other stations. This tells me there is something unusual about how WJLA is transmitting its digital (CEA-708) captions for non-live, prime time programming on their digital channel.
(On the other hand, my Insignia converter box and my Panasonic DVD writer are both able to decode WJLA's digital captions, so there is a difference in how TV equipment from different manufacturers are processing the digital captions.)
I am really, really disappointed. I had certainly hoped that a brand new HDTV from Samsung, particularly a top-rated one reviewed by Consumer Reports, would not have any problem at all decoding captions. I think there's an interactive effect between what WJLA is doing, though, and how certain manufacturers are decoding captions. If the TV stations use signal processors and captioning equipment correctly, they should be eliminating such problems, though there may also be a problem with their captioning equipment being faulty. (WJLA uses an Evertz caption encoder.)
If any of you have a digital TV, could you let me know your own experience getting digital captions (the customizable kind) for the local ABC station, WJLA, on their digital channel, especially with non-live prime time programming? (If you change the color of the foreground, or the text, to yellow, and can then see yellow captions, then you'll know you've set up the digital captions correctly. Many people, however, have found it difficult to set up the customizable captions and don't realize they didn't do so correctly, particularly if they didn't change the text color. Default captions will still be black and white.)
Unfortunately, WJLA has not given me the courtesy of responding to my emails to them reporting recent captioning problems, so I do plan to file a complaint with the FCC if I don't get a response from WJLA by next Monday. I think it would be helpful to find out what other digital TV equipment has problems decoding digital captions from WJLA, so I'm asking for your help by letting me know if you have any problems seeing the digital Service1 or CS1 captions, not the analog, CC1 captions, on the digital channel from WJLA, especially for the pre-recorded prime time programs. (I'm not seeing a problem with live captioning, which uses a different captioning process, or with the Samsung's basic CEA-608 captioning.)
Let me know the brand and model number of the HDTV you're using as well as the date of manufacture or the date you bought it.
If you have an HDTV that you are using with an antenna but you're not sure how to program it to decode the digital, CS1 or Service1 captions even after following all the instructions in your HDTV's user manual (please do this first), feel free to email me privately at email@example.com
If this problem isn't fixed in time, I won't be able to watch any WJLA programs, like "Lost," with digital captions from this $1200 Samsung 40" HDTV after February 17th, and that will probably be true for other people in this area who have Samsung HDTVs and possibly HDTVs from certain other manufacturers as well. (I may have to end up returning the HDTV and eating the $57 shipping cost because there was no way I could know ahead of time about the Samsung's inability to decode the problematic digital captions from WJLA.)
If we can find out that there are even more DTV manufacturers involved than Samsung and Sharp which can't decode digital captions from WJLA, that might impress upon WJLA, Evertz and the FCC that they need to take more action to troubleshoot this problem.