When I found out that the Red Sox were not closed-captioning the 2004 Red Sox season DVD titled Faith Rewarded, I wrote to the Red Sox, to NESN, to everyone I could, to try to get captioning on the DVD. I have not made much progress in getting the DVD captioned, but I have at least made people aware of it!
I have posted a running chronology on Sons of Sam Horn of my e-mail correspondence.
So far, numerous people at NESN have replied to me, also Curt Schilling, Dan Shaughnessy, Les Otten, and Philip Morse (the latter two are Vice Chairmen for the Red Sox).
My opening mail to all involved was:
My name is Evan Brunell, I’m 19 years old and I’m a freshman at Northeastern University, which is 5 minutes from Fenway. And yes, the location in relation to Fenway was a selling point for me coming here! The other thing is that I am deaf. I can orally talk, lip read and hear to an extent with my cochlear implant, but I can’t hear well enough to talk on the phone or to talk to someone without looking at them, or (and the basis for this e-mail) to watch TV without closed-captioning
Ever since the new ownership took over, closed captioning has taken a hit. First it was the spring training games and shows that were not captioned, but the regular season games and postgames were. Then last year, when the spring training games and shows were not captioned, I wrote letters and got the spring training shows captioned. One problem – the pre- and post-game shows in the regular season never got captioned. I wrote letters again early in the season. Unlike the spring training letter (I got 3 kind letters in return) I recieved no response. I commissioned SOSH to convey to them the importance of closed-captioning. Zero responses across the board, and I could never watch the pre- and post-game shows no matter how much I wanted to. Couldn’t watch and still can’t watch Red Sox This Week, either.
“Still We Believe” the 2003 DVD release was not captioned. I didn’t care too much. I mean … well, just look what happened in 2003. Of course, I would LOVE to be able to watch the movie, but it doesn’t bother me as much as the 2004 DVD. Not captioned.
How does this work? The Red Sox are enjoying cash inflow like never before with the World Series win, and they can’t caption OR subtitle a lousy DVD about the Red Sox winning it all? I thought they were supposed to be fan friendly, but it looks like they’re only doing a passable job of getting that DVD out there and are more concerned with profiting from this DVD. I am going to be writing many letters to NESN, the Red Sox, all Boston sports journalists, and will be comissioning SOSH to spark perhaps NESN to release something that I can remember the season by.
A lot of SOSHers (Sons of Sam Horn posters) supported me throughout this.
Philip Morse replied with thus:
Thanks for writing to us about your concerns.
I read your email with great interest and you were doing fine until you started to mention things… like all the money we made in the World Series and the “lousy” video. You have a better chance of getting the issue resolved by staying on high ground and sticking to the facts. The Boston Red Sox made little or no money on the World Series. All the proceeds from the first four games of any Series goes directly to the players union and MLB. We only receive revenue if the series goes beyond four games. As for the “lousy video” without captions….I will bring this up at a meeting we are going to have very shortly….and get back to you or have someone in the organization reach out to you. You deserve to be heard.
Once again thank you for bring this matter to our attention.
Phillip H. Morse
Vice Chairman, Boston Red Sox
I replied, apologizing for calling the DVD lousy and also asked him to bring the matter of pre- and post-game captioning (or lack thereof) to the meeting. He replied and said he would. I have to inject here that I think the Red Sox are actually making a lot off of this due to t-shirts, merchandise, the DVD, etc.
Curt Schilling replied and said:
I am in the process of getting Mr Henry to see your email.
Thanks for sending this and thanks for being a fan!
Thank you for your very thoughtful email. You wrote it to a lot of folks
here who have more to offer on specific questions you raised, but
wanted to personally respond as I was among them. I understand and
respect your concern about close captioning. The owners and all of us
here at the team care deeply about providing access to all here at
Fenway and in all of our endeavors. You raise a good point about the
DVD’s. It’s an important issue for us and for MLB who helped produce
them. You sent your email to the right people here at the Red Sox. So
while we may not have an immediate remedy, I wanted to let you know that
we got your message. And Im confident you will be hearing more from
others here soon ( if you have not already). In the meantime, thank you
for being a fan and for your strong advocacy for change that will serve
Sr. Vice President of Corporate Relations and
Executive Director of Red Sox Foundation
I will be happy to champion your cause, as a partner I do not get involved
in management decisions.
FYI I was the founder of MHS over 20 years ago. MHS is a maine based
foundation dedicated to helping challenged individuals participate in the
sport of alpine skiing. I am also chair of the Jeremiah Cromwell Center, the
Center helps educate children and adults about the needs of mentally
impaired individuals, we teach understanding.
That e-mail is from Les Otten, and he also provided me an e-mail address for Sean McGrail who, per Les’ words, “If it is a red sox broadcast Sean is the last stop.” I have yet to e-mail Sean, but I will be doing so tomorrow.
Mr. Evan Brunell
Most Valuable Network
Dear Mr. Brunell:
Thank you for your email, as well as your support of NESN telecasts and our season-ending DVD.
The vast majority of feedback on Faith Rewarded has been extremely positive. While we received some criticism on product availability due to high demand, the video itself has been well reviewed. So it was with a sense of disappointment that I read of your dissatisfaction.
You raise a valid point regarding the closed captioning of Faith Rewarded. NESN is relatively new to the DVD industry, and is still learning what makes for a great retail product. In the production, marketing and distribution of such initiatives, NESN works with multiple vendors who provide support and expertise along the way. In producing Faith Rewarded, industry norms for the genre were followed; most sports-related DVDs are not typically closed-captioned and thus neither was ours. Comments from our fan base always contribute to the process, however, and your correspondence will serve as a reference for future endeavors.
In support of your concern I will forward a transcript of Faith Rewarded for personal use. Also, NESN will air Faith Rewarded on the network in 2005 with closed captioned text added.
As you know, NESN captions all of its Red Sox and Bruins telecasts, SportsDesk (both evening and morning editions), ESPNEWS and other network programming. Since 2001, our commitment to closed captioning has nearly tripled (i.e., 16 average hours daily compared to 5.5) and we will continue to explore ways to expand such offerings including our pre and post-game coverage.
Again, thank you for your e-mail. If you have any additional questions, please feel free to call me at xxxxx
Gary A. Roy
Promotions/Public Relations Manager
I replied to Mr. Roy with:
I will accept the transcript, but I won’t use it. I cannot in good conscience buy a DVD that does not accomodate me. It is not easy to look down at a transcript and then up at the television – doing so quickly enough to a) read the transcript and b) watch the movie.
You state that “In producing Faith Rewarded, industry norms for the genre were followed; most sports-related DVDs are not typically closed-captioned and thus neither was ours.” With all due respect, Mr. Roy, if all other sports-related DVDs jumped off a bridge, would you, too?
Closed-captioning “Faith Rewarded” on TV is a big step forward as “Still We Believe” is not, so I thank you for that. However, is it impossible to put closed-captioning on the DVDs that you are currently producing? Surely you have not stopped printing the DVDs. Why not put them on the current batch that’s being printed?
Several SOSHers have pledged not to buy the DVD until it is closed-captioned.
Today, Bill Doyle of the Worcester Telegram and Gazette ran an article.