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For immediate release
July 15, 2002

BOSTON, MA - The first digital high-definition television (HDTV) sets incorporating advanced new digital closed caption capability are rolling off the production lines, consistent with the July 1 Federal Communications Commission (FCC) deadline.

Developed in 1990 by Boston public broadcaster WGBH, Descriptive Video Service® (DVS®) makes visual media more accessible to the nation's 12 million viewers who are blind or visually impaired. The service provides descriptive narration of key visual elements - making television programs, feature films, home videos and other visual media accessible to people who are blind or visually impaired. Key visual elements are those that viewers who are visually impaired would ordinarily miss, such as actions, costumes, gestures, facial expressions, scene changes and on-screen text. Inserted within the natural pauses in dialogue, audio descriptions of important visual details help to engage these viewers with the story.

Zenith joined with WGBH's National Center for Accessible Media (NCAM) and its DTV Access Project to demonstrate digital closed captioning in the nation's capital. During presentations at back-to-back conferences-- the National Association of the Deaf (NAD) 2002 conference and Gallaudet University's Deaf Way II-- NCAM demonstrated the first fully implemented EIA-708B caption decoder using Zenith's new integrated HDTVs.

Viewers can access description on their stereo-equipped televisions or VCRs through the Second Audio Program or SAP channel. Stand-alone SAP receivers also are available (these can be used with or without a television; a list of vendors can be found at Most TVs and VCRs purchased since 1992 are equipped with the SAP feature. To hear the narrated visual descriptions through a stereo TV or VCR, simply activate its SAP feature.

Closed-captioned programs created by WGBH were displayed at both events on Zenith's new direct-view digital HDTVs soon to be available at retail: the 34-inch C34W23 Widescreen Integrated HDTV, the 36-inch C36V23 Integrated HDTV, and the 32-inch C32V23, which is the industry's first integrated HDTV priced under $1,500.

In addition to originating one-third of PBS's prime-time programming, WGBH is widely credited with pioneering closed captioning and video descriptions for TV broadcasting. Zenith has worked closely with WGBH in the implementation of digital closed captioning in its HDTVs, just as it did a decade ago with its analog TV products capable of displaying closed captioning.

"As with analog closed captions more than a decade ago, Zenith is proud to pave the way for bringing closed captions into the digital era," said Ken Lee, senior vice president, sales and marketing. "Implementation of flexible new digital closed captions further enhances digital TV's capabilities, making HDTV more accessible to all Americans."

Two years ago the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) declared that consumer electronics manufacturers would be required to include compliant closed- captioning decoder circuitry in digital TV devices as of July 1, 2002. Consumer equipment covered under the FCC Report and Order includes DTV sets with integrated widescreen displays measuring at least 7.8 inches vertically, DTV sets with conventional displays measuring at least 13 inches vertically, and stand-alone DTV tuners.

Closed captioning is an access technology that allows persons with hearing loss to appreciate and understand television programming. Captioning displays the audio portion of programming as text superimposed over the video, and is encoded and transmitted along the video signal of television broadcasts. In order to display closed captions, viewers must either use a TV receiver with integrated decoder circuitry or a set-top decoder.

An early advocate of closed captioning, Zenith was the first manufacturer to introduce analog TVs with built-in Line 21 closed caption capability in 1991. Zenith also was instrumental in building industry support for and securing congressional passage of the Television Decoder Circuitry Act of 1990. That law requires that analog TV receivers with screens 13 inches or larger contain built-in decoder circuitry designed to display closed-captioned transmissions. Zenith also was an early pioneer in hearing aids, developing the industry's first affordable hearing aids beginning in 1938. During World War II, Zenith employed thousands of workers with hearing loss producing hearing aids, the only consumer products Zenith built during the war. In later years, Zenith paved the way to transistorized hearing aids and led the industry crusade on behalf of hard of hearing consumers.

The CPB/WGBH National Center for Accessible Media (NCAM), part of the Media Access Group at Boston public broadcaster WGBH, is leading an unprecedented cross-country effort to enable digital television stations to deliver closed captioning and video description services to individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing, blind or visually impaired.

Through its DTV Access Project (, NCAM works with broadcasters, professional and consumer electronics manufacturers, and industry standards bodies to support implementation of these vital access services. FCC mandates require all stations to have DTV signals on the air by 2003, while a variety of requirements to transmit and receive closed captioning and video description are now in effect. DTV equipment must support caption reception and display as of July 1, 2002.

NCAM, The Caption Center and the Descriptive Video Service make up the Media Access Group at WGBH, which this year marks three decades as the leader in developing media access solutions which benefit industry and the nation's 36 million viewers with sensory disabilities. WGBH Boston is America's preeminent public broadcasting producer. More than one-third of PBS's prime-time lineup and companion Web content as well as many public radio favorites are produced by WGBH. Since its establishment in 1951, WGBH has been recognized with hundreds of honors, including Emmys, Peabodys, du-Pont-Columbia Awards--even two Oscars.

DTV Access project funding is provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting Television Future Fund, the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research/U.S. Department of Education and the NCAM Business Partners Program.

Zenith Electronics Corporation, founded in 1918, is a leader in digital television technologies and inventor of the U.S. digital HDTV transmission system adopted by the FCC. Zenith's Emmy award winning technologies include digital HDTV, flat-screen CRTs, stereo television and TV remote controls. For 2002, Zenith is capitalizing on its digital HDTV leadership and on the extensive technologies and resources of its parent company, LG Electronics Inc. (LGE). Zenith's corporate headquarters are in Lincolnshire, Ill. Visit Zenith on the Web at

Press contact:
Mary Watkins
Media Access Group at WGBH
(617) 300-3700
(617) 300-2489 TTY

John I. Taylor
(847) 941-8181

Caption Services Description Services NCAM