More than five years after the commercial networks began transmitting captioned programs for the deaf and hearing-impaired, ABC on Monday became the first to commit to broadcasting its entire prime-time schedule with the subtitles.
In addition to those 22 hours of evening shows, ABC said that at least 20 other hours of its programming will be captioned each week, ranging from "Good Morning America" to "World News Tonight."
"Support for this activity from advertisers, our affiliates, NCI (the National Captioning Institute) and government has been most gratifying. This is an example of public service of the highest order," said Anthony Thomopoulos, president of the ABC Broadcast Group.
The subtitles, added to each program at an average cost of $2,200 per hour, are seen only by viewers who have purchased a special decoding device that attaches to the TV set.
SOUNDS FAMILIAR: Once again, Reagan is in, Mondale is out.
Only now the scene is KABC-TV Channel 7 rather than the White House.
Eleanor Mondale, the 25-year-old daughter of former Vice President Walter Mondale, left the ABC-owned station last week to take a job as a reporter on the pilot of a proposed syndicated TV series, "Rock 'n' Roll Evening News." She had been working as a free-lance reporter at KABC for about six months.
Mondale said that the new job for the magazine-style show about music and pop culture represented "an excellent opportunity" for her. She said she is continuing to pursue work as an actress.
Meanwhile, reporting to the station last week to begin a six-week internship was Ron Reagan, the 27-year-old son of President Reagan. Young Reagan signed a one-year contract with ABC Entertainment in July and will be spending several days a week at KABC-TV observing the news operation, according to Tom Van Amberg, Channel 7 general manager.
Although Reagan has experience as a reporter and was signed by the network in that capacity, Van Amberg said he does not anticipate the President's son turning up on camera during his period at KABC-TV.
In an unrelated development, Van Amberg confirmed that "by mutual agreement," Ciji Ware and Lillian Glass had been dropped as life-style commentators from KABC-TV's 4 p.m. newscast. He said the station was in the process of remixing the news show's ingredients.