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CBS’ president and CEO George Cheeks is addressing the lack of appropriate closed captions for Bad Bunny’s Grammys performance and his acceptance speech that followed during the Sunday telecast.
The record-breaking musician opened the Recording Academy’s 2023 awards show with a mashup of his hits “El Apagón” and “Después de la Playa,” in which his Spanish lyrics were not translated into closed captions. Instead, the words “singing in non-English” were displayed on the screens for those who had captions turned on during the performance. Later, during his acceptance speech for best música urbana album, the words “speaking in non-English” were displayed in parts of his speech that were in Spanish.
In response to U.S. Rep. Robert Garcia, who wrote a letter to CBS earlier in the week addressing the captioning error, Cheeks took “full responsibility” for the lack of translation for the Latin superstar’s lyrics and eventual acceptance speech. While CBS added Spanish captions to the later showing of the awards show and on Paramount+ since then, those who watched it live saw the “speaking non-English” captions, which have now become memes blasted across social media.
“Regrettably, errors were made with respect to the closed captioning of his performance and subsequent acceptance speech,” the CEO and president of CBS wrote in the letter, which was obtained by The Hollywood Reporter. “Our teams are now re-examining the closed captioning process for all live entertainment events on the Network to ensure we properly caption Spanish-language content. We will keep you updated regarding our efforts on this matter.”
Read the full letter below:
Dear Representative Garcia:
Thank you for your letter and for sharing your feedback about the Grammy Awards on CBS.
The Grammys is our biggest live entertainment event of the year and an evening that showcases a wide range of diverse artists and voices. We were proud to open the broadcast with an electric Spanish-language performance by Grammy-winning artist Bad Bunny to a national and worldwide audience.
Regrettably, errors were made with respect to the closed captioning of his performance and subsequent acceptance speech. We worked with a closed captioning vendor that did not execute at a standard to which we should rightfully be held. Regardless, we should have monitored the situation more closely. A bilingual (English and Spanish-language) real-time live captioner should have been utilized and the words used on the screen were insensitive to many. I take full responsibility for what happened.
As you acknowledged in your letter, our closed captioning team worked quickly to address the matter that night, updated the captioning for the West Coast encore, and later for on-demand playback on our streaming platform. Our teams are now re-examining the closed captioning process for all live entertainment events on the Network to ensure we properly caption Spanish-language content. We will keep you updated regarding our efforts on this matter.
Please be assured that diversity in our programming and an inclusive experience for our audiences will continue to be top priorities for CBS.
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