30 Jul 2013

Football Commentators Labelled “Paedophiles” by Faulty Subtitle Auto-Correct

ESPN UK’s coverage of Sundays night’s CONCACAF (Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football) Gold Cup final ended with a spectacular subtitle failure.

Two unfortunate sports presenters were labelled as ‘paedophiles’ by malfunctioning subtitling software whilst overseeing ESPN’s UK coverage of the CONCACAF Gold Cup final in Chicago. The incident took place as the commentary team were about to sign off their coverage of the United States vs Panama game.

Instead of saying ‘That’s it from the pair of us’, the automated subtitle program inexplicably signed off as ‘That’s it from the paedophiles’, much to the amusement of hard of hearing viewers. The mistake soon went viral but ESPN were swift to remove video footage of the incident on the grounds of copyright infringement.

Non-human subtitle software is bound to fail from time to time when attempting to identify unfamiliar words or words spoken in a heavy accent. And this is not the first time automated subtitles have failed and caused embarrassment for broadcasters.

The BBC has come under fire from groups for the hard of hearing for its increasing number of bizarre gaffes, which have included calling the Labour leader “Ed Miller Band” and the Church of England leader the “arch bitch of Canterbury”.

During the Queen Mother’s funeral, a solemn call for silence became ‘we will now have a moment’s violence’.

When a BBC announcer revealed the Government was ‘making helpful decisions’, deaf viewers would have been left wondering why politicians were ‘making holes for surgeons’.

These blunders are understood to have happened during live events where either a stenographer types words phonetically or by using speech recognition.

But at least the BBC can have a joke at its own expense rather than relying on expensive litigation. Watch Mock the Week’s ‘Subtitle Fails’ video below.


Sign up to our newsletter

Get our blog articles straight to your inbox.