New Czech Subtitle Format on Netflix Does Disservice to Viewers

The Czech Association of Interpreters and Translators (JTP), which also represents audiovisual translators, is deeply concerned about the recent emergence of a new format of Czech subtitles on the Netflix streaming platform. These appear once Czech subtitles are selected together with Czech audio. These subtitles, generated automatically from dubbing scripts, fail to adhere to standard subtitling practices. They are often poorly structured, excessively fast, out of sync, and suffer from phonetic transcriptions of proper names. Regrettably, viewers are not made aware that the subtitles have been generated automatically, and may incorrectly assume that they have been produced by an incompetent subtitler. This not only damages the reputation of subtitlers and their profession, but also reflects negatively on Netflix itself. 

While we acknowledge Netflix’s efforts to provide a wide variety of formats to cater to audiences with different needs (subtitles for hearing audiences, dubbing, subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing, audio description), the introduction of this new subtitle format has caused confusion, particularly among deaf and hard-of-hearing viewers. These subtitles do not meet their accessibility requirements. 

In light of these issues, we urge Netflix to inform viewers about the different types of subtitles available, clearly labeling them and allowing the option to combine Czech dubbed audio with standard interlingual subtitles. This would ensure a better viewing experience for all audiences and uphold the integrity of subtitling standards.


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