CBS President and CEO George Cheeks has opened up about the “errors” that surrounded a lack of closed captioning during a telecast of Puerto Rican artist Bad Bunny’s opening performance at Sunday’s Grammy Awards.
Cheeks weighed in on the closed captioning of the performance ― and Bad Bunny’s Grammy Award acceptance speech for Best Música Urbana Album ― after fans called out the use of “[SINGING IN NON-ENGLISH]” and “[SPEAKING NON-ENGLISH]” during the telecast.
Cheeks, in response to a letter sent by Rep. Robert Garcia (D-Calif.), wrote that he took “full responsibility” for the controversy and acknowledged that there should have been a bilingual captioner on hand for the ceremony, Variety reported.
“Regrettably, errors were made with respect to the closed captioning of his performance and subsequent acceptance speech,” Cheeks wrote.
“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.”
Cheeks added that the network’s closed-captioning team updated captions before the Grammys aired a second time on the West Coast and for video on its 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,” the CBS head wrote.
The captioning chaos began as Bad Bunny kicked off the ceremony with a mashup of “El Apagón” and “Después de la Playa,” songs from his Grammy-winning album, “Un Verano Sin Ti.”
Garcia, in a letter to Cheeks earlier this week, described himself as a proud Latino immigrant and called out the network for its failure to deliver Spanish closed captioning during its initial airing of the ceremony.
“For too many Spanish-speaking Americans, it felt disrespectful of our place in our shared society, and of our contributions to our shared culture. For the hearing impaired community, this failure was hurtful,” Garcia wrote.
Garcia later added: “I am gratified by your efforts to address concerns, including adding closed captioning to replays of the performance, but I urge you to take serious measures to address the failures which made this mistake possible.”