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HDMI and the Missing Closed Captions

Posted by Emma on August 11, 2010 at 8:21 am. Captioning, High Definition, Techy

Has this happened to you: you scrounge and save and finally get an awesome TV (flat-screen, LCD, the works). Now that you have the sweet TV you want to hook-up your receiver (Comcast DVR, TiVO, DirecTV DVR, etc) with the HDMI cable for maximum viewing quality. Finally it’s all hooked up and the picture looks stellar but the closed captions have disappeared. Where did they go? You didn’t really change anything so why can’t you turn them on with the TV?

The problem isn’t with your TV or DVR. The problem is that the HDMI and componenet cables cannot carry closed caption information. The TV won’t be able to read closed captions because none will be transfered from your DVR to you TV. Yikes. Therefore, if you connect any device (Comcast’s DVR, Tivo, etc) by HDMI/component, you must use that device’s menu to decode the closed captions. Your TV’s closed caption button will never show captions when connected this way.

Why?? The TV’s closed caption button only works for the analog input, when the caption data is embedded in the signal. In this new fangled digital world, the receiver (aka DVR or set-top-box) must generate captions for the screen. Including closed caption info. on an HDMI cable has not been defined or agreed upon by the TV makers. Closed caption data is only well defined on the standard TV format. The closed caption information does not get transmitted by the HDMI cable.

The solution is to use that device’s menu to turn on the captions. Every DVR is different but we can give you a few tips and tricks here. Please comment and add more information if you’ve done this testing, too. The trick is to fool the TV into thinking that you’re setting CC for the coax input, then leaving it set to ON after that. It may be that what’s really going on with these TVs may not be that CC isn’t available in non-coax inputs, but that you can’t ADJUST CC in those inputs.

First, start by enabling the closed caption data in the general menu of the DVR. See our handy guide for more information on finding the closed caption menu on your DVR.

If this doesn’t work, then try to find your DVR’s “hidden” menu. (It’s not that spooky but it is tricky to find.) Most of the time, you’ll need to turn off your DVR and then press the Menu or Power button on the front panel. Here are a couple how-tos for Comcast, Motorola and Verizon. Send us more so that we can all help each other. Note: The digital captions will always be enabled! You need to repeat these same processes to disable the captions!

Comcast Hidden Menu:
1. Turn on your TV
2. Turn off the DVR
3. Press the Menu button
4. You will see the USER SETTING screen on your TV
5. Move down to the CLOSED CAPTIONS entry using the arrow buttons
6. Press the right-arrow to switch between ENABLED and DISABLED
7. Press the Menu button
8. Turn on the DVR
To turn CC off you have to use the same method!

Motorola DCH3416
1. Turn off the TV.
2. Press the Power button on the front panel of the DCH3416 unit to bring the unit into Stand-By mode.
3. Unplug the power cable from behind the unit to truly power-off the unit.
4. Turn the TV back again (should just be blank screen)
5. Connect the power cable to the DCH3416 unit and quickly press the Menu button on the front panel of the unit.
6. If all goes well, there will appear a rough looking screen on your TV titled “User Setting Status”. NOTE: If this does not work immediately, try steps (3) to (5) a few more times.
7. Notice that item “Closed Caption” is Disabled.
8. Use the Remote of DCH3416 unit to scroll down (using up/down buttons) to the “Closed Caption” line. Press the right arrow on the Remote to toggle this item to be “Enabled”.
9. Then press the “Menu” button on the front panel of the DCH3416 unit to get out of the “User Setting Status” screen. This saves your settings.
10. Press the “Power” button on the front panel of the DCH3416 unit to bring the unit out of Stan-By mode into full operation. The close caption should now work.
To turn CC off you have to use the same method!

Verizon FIOS HD DVR STB Model #6416 (and #6214)
1. Press power off
2. Press Select button
3. Press menu button to get this display. (not easy to get—there may be a specific amount of time required to hold down the button)

Verizon FIOS HD DVR STB Model #6214
1. Press power button off
2. Press menu button to get this display.

Good luck! If you find any more information, send it our way and we’ll continue to update this post.


49 Comments »

  1. This is great information!

    Comment by Michelle | August 23, 2010 @ 8:31 am

  2. I’m hard of hearing, and this just pisses the hell out of me.

    Since the whole industry knows about this, why can’t they come to an agreement that will allow Closed Captioning to be transmitted over HDMI cables?

    BUT UNTIL THEY DO…
    Why the hell can’t the DVR makers make CC part of an *accessible* menu instead of a hidden one?

    Why should we have to turn the DVR off to go to the *hidden* menu to turn CC off to see what was on the screen that the captioning was blocking (which, by the time you get CC turned off and the DVR back on, is gone anyhow) and then have to turn it off again to go BACK to the *hidden* menu to be able to read what some of us can’t hear ?

    When all they would have to do is put CC on an accessible menu ???

    Comment by Conrad | January 29, 2011 @ 1:51 pm

  3. Exactly so, Conrad!
    What the hell are they thinking?
    My wife has hearing problems, I don’t. When she is not watching, I’d rather have CC off and turn it on as needed. It’s not a one shot deal. It’s a major pain to get into that System menu on my box. It should be on the regular menu, not the system menu.

    Comment by Steve Cohen | May 18, 2011 @ 5:44 pm

  4. Thanks so much for the hints… I’ve been battling the lack of CC on HD/HDMI for months… I have a Scientific Atlanta DVR, and indeed I was able to go through the Settings menu on the remote, go up to find the CC, change that from Off to On and that did the trick for me… now I can watch TV shows on HD with CC. Thanks,
    Jose
    PS: I agree with Conrad and Michelle’s comments 100%… that is too bad… CC should be provided through HDMI connectivity…!!!

    Comment by Jose L. Antoniano | July 19, 2011 @ 1:49 pm

  5. I agree. I am hearing impaired and I too have to go through hoops to turn it on or off. Once in awhile I would just like to hit the CC button on my remote so that I can see what is on the screen instead of having to go through all the hoops to get it off and then all the hoops to get it back on again. This is so uncalled for this day in age with our technology that nobody fixed this issue.

    Comment by Janie Frances | October 13, 2011 @ 8:53 am

  6. My cable set top box has a menu item for enabling closed captioning via HDMI. Enabling cc does nothing because the TV will simply not decode what it is getting. The Samsung manual makes it clear that devices attached using HDMI or composit will not process cc data. That’s the TVs fault, not the cable or set top box, which have HDMI cc capability, or the AVR in the home theater environment. I’m looking through all the online sources and the only input I’ve received so far that they can handle closed captioning on their TVs is Sony. I’m trying to verfy that with real world users.

    Comment by Otto | July 21, 2012 @ 6:47 pm

  7. Thanks for this blog!

    Comment by Microgynon | July 22, 2012 @ 4:13 pm

  8. This was exactly what i needed.. Ive had my flat screen for two years now.. Weve had to refrain from using the hdmi because i could never get the captions to come out. I dont usually comment on posts like this but this was so helpful that i just had to. Thank you so much for this!

    Comment by Bam | August 11, 2012 @ 3:51 pm

  9. We like the cc on becuase we have two small children and like to catch up on our TV watching at night. This article was perfect. We have Comcast and although we had to push the menu key several times and the guide key to get the hidden menu up it works perfectly.

    Comment by Andrew | September 20, 2012 @ 8:32 pm

  10. Has anyone tried hooking up their TV with both HDMI and analog connections? It is less of a hassle on my LG 60″ Plasma to switch between inputs than turning off my Comcast DVR to make the change there. I understand that the video quality won’t be as good with the analog connection but we only use CC for certain programs and times.

    Thanks for the blog!

    Comment by William | September 29, 2012 @ 7:35 am

  11. Will you have my baby? I have been so frustrated trying to understand “Luther” and you have saved my life. Thank you thank you thank you.

    Comment by Lynne Burnett | October 23, 2012 @ 9:32 pm

  12. Ty very helpful!!!!!

    Comment by melissa | October 25, 2012 @ 8:59 pm

  13. My Sci Atlanta 8300 DVR thru COMCAST
    An alternate to turning off DVR, making settings and then turn DVR back on -
    Select MENU on remote control, Main Menu-Setup-scroll WAY DOWN to Subtitle Setup-Subtitle On/Off

    More convenient for me anyway.

    What the device manufacturers SHOULD provide:
    CC Button on remote control – push once, CC on. Push again, CC off. Just what I had on my analog TV so long ago!

    Comment by mapletrail | October 29, 2012 @ 9:32 pm

  14. Use component cable NOT the HDMI cable

    Comment by Al | December 1, 2012 @ 11:49 pm

  15. This is how I got closed caption working with Dish Network HD receiver and my HD TV, as the encoded closed caption isn’t transmitted over HDMI or component cables to the TV. (The closed caption menu item on the TV is disabled as it’s not available with HDMI or Component input.)

    On the Dish remote control, go to Menu / Closed Caption / Caption On-Off / Set to ‘CC is on’ / Done.
    Check that the ‘Caption Opacity’ menu is set to ‘Solid’ for both background and foreground to be certain you can see it on the TV. (If transparent, you won’t see it.) This send CC to the TV as text.
    Go to a channel with a CC program. The Dish ‘Info’ button shows (CC) if the program is being transmitted with closed caption. Try CNN or ESPN. I was then able to see the closed captions.

    Oddly, an old tube TV still needs to have caption enabled on the TV to see it, even though the Dish receiver has it enabled.

    Comment by jps | December 15, 2012 @ 2:08 pm

  16. Dear Engineer! I want to thanks you from the bottom of my heart. When my wife bought a Sharp HDMI TV month ago I tried to connect the caption, but it was impossible, nor even the Comcast’s technician could. I decided to enter INTERNET and found your instructions. I wish you and your family (the same to your partners) the best congratulations (HEALTH+LOVE+MONEY+ SUCCESS IN YOUR DAILY LIVE)GOD BLESS YOU ALL. SINCERELY YOURS Jorge Febles Miami, 12/30/2012

    Comment by JORGE FEBLES | December 30, 2012 @ 3:36 pm

  17. So far I’ve avoided buying a Blu-ray device and will probably just keep using my old Sony DVD/VHS device because I need captions all the time. The VHS side is now blurry, but I’ll eventually probably just get it fixed rather than replace it with a Blu-ray that won’t feed captions to my Samsung TV.

    You may have noticed that newer DVDs come with subtitles, probably to avoid the caption problem. Even Netflix is now subtitling a fair number of shows, and I generally reject anything without subtitles as worthless. Obviously the industry hasn’t adapted fast enough to a growing problem.

    Comment by Mike | January 2, 2013 @ 10:08 am

  18. I’ve been working on an external closed caption decoder for HD video. It’s available in prototype format now (only works on pop-on captioning for the moment). I expect to have roll-up style working by Spring. It’s not 100% perfect solution, but works in probably 90% of the cases.

    It’s really puzzling why the HDMI organization hasn’t added the ability to carry the closed caption signal, either EIA608 alone or both 608 and 708 (the newer HDTV format of captions). I can’t see any technical reason why this couldn’t be done (there’s plenty of bandwidth, for example). And there have been several revisions of the HDMI spec since this CC problem has come to light.

    -SeoulBigChris

    Comment by SeoulBigChris | January 4, 2013 @ 9:38 am

  19. Finally, I find out what the heck is going on. I was getting CC to my TV when looking at the component input but not the HDMI. If you have both outputs on your cable box, as I do, use the component connections and then you can use the CC on/off on your TV. A pox on the idiots that didn’t work this out before-hand. The FCC insists on all programming being closed-captioned so why make it so difficult to access it?

    Comment by Bob | January 4, 2013 @ 11:51 am

  20. Bob – I am curious about your observation. I’m only aware that CC can exist on the 480i mode of component video. Is this your experience? Or were you in a different mode?

    Also, to be clear, when you say “you can use the CC on/off on your TV”, you mean that you’re watching the program from the component inputs, not the HDMI, right?

    I’d love to know if there is a TV out there that will let you watch HDMI video input, whilst simultaneously taking closed captions from the analog input (this is the technique I use in my external decoder box mentioned above).

    -SeoulBigChris

    Comment by SeoulBigChris | January 4, 2013 @ 7:12 pm

  21. Bob (something happened to my previous post, sorry if this is a duplicate question)… I’m curious about your success with captions over component video. I’ve seen a few situations where 480i component video would have CC, but people rarely used component connections at that lowest resolution. If you wanted to check, when I’ve seen CC on component video, it’s been on either the Green (RGB) or Y (Y/Pb/Pr) signals.

    Next question, when the TV’s CC on/off is working, you mean the TV set’s input is set to the component inputs? Or is it possible that your TV lets you view HDMI video and extracts the captions from the component video? I’d love to know if that’s the case!

    Comment by SeoulBigChris | January 5, 2013 @ 2:43 am

  22. Thank you! It worked perfect for me. :)

    Comment by Natasha | January 24, 2013 @ 11:19 pm

  23. This is helpful information with regards to the function of the DVR and TV itself. However, I have older dvd’s that do not have subtitles but are closed captioned and my dvd player only has HMDI connection capability. My deaf kids are no longer able to watch these dvd’s! This really downright inconsiderate of those engineers who developed the HDMI technologies to not work in a solution to this situation.

    Comment by Frank | February 16, 2013 @ 6:38 pm

  24. Just bought two hi-defs and have needed CC for many years. I like to be able to have it on through my TV so when I want to see something on the screen, I can push the volume or mute button and the CC goes away for a couple of seconds and its always worked well for me, and if I you record a show with CC on through the cable itself and they are permanently there and can never be turned off. Both TV’s are hooked up with HDMI cables. one of the TV’s a SCEPTRE, in my son’s room, the CC is turning on with the TV’s remote but when I try that on the Sanyo I get a not available popup on the screen and can only do CC through the cable remote. I had no idea the HDMI had anything to do with it until I came across a review and this site, but thought the SCEPTRE TV showing the CC was kind of interesting and wondered why it might be working.

    Comment by Christine | February 23, 2013 @ 7:41 pm

  25. Lg tv and comcast dvr box. Can anyone tell me how to turn cc on. So frustrating. :(

    Comment by norma | March 2, 2013 @ 12:12 am

  26. We know how frustrating it can be. Try checking your manual, or if that doesn’t help, contact the manufacturers or service providers. They might be able to give you specific instructions for your device. You also may find useful information on the CaptionMax FAQ page: http://www.captionmax.com/closed-captioning-resources/#captions-on-hdtv. Hope this helps. Good luck!

    Comment by Kate | March 5, 2013 @ 8:43 am

  27. What I do is have both HDMI and component connections from my Comcast DVR cable box to my TV. When I want highest quality I select HDMI. When I want closed captions I change the TV input to component video then the CC button on my TV remote control works.

    Comment by Carleton | March 15, 2013 @ 11:49 am

  28. This was great. I was able to run component wiring in parallel to the HDMI. The closed caption works and I can switch back to HD when I want. Thanks!

    Comment by Gary | March 15, 2013 @ 1:10 pm

  29. Great suggestion by Carlteton to use both inputs. Note that on the Motorola DCH and DCX boxes, if you are using component cables for HD, the CC data passes through to the TV set, so you can use the CC decoder built in to the TV set itself. If you use an HDMI cable, the CC data doesn’t pass through to the TV set’s decoder, so you have to go into the Motorola’s User Settings to enable CC so that the cable box is decoding the CC and it overlays it on the screen. It works fine, but it doesn’t allow you to quickly turn it on and off. To get into the Motorola’s User Settings, turn the box off using the cable remote or front panel, and within 3 seconds, press Menu. It may take a few moments or a couple of times to get the timing right. Don’t mess with other settings when you’re in there or you’ll be on the phone to repair.

    Comment by DonW | March 25, 2013 @ 8:05 am

  30. OMG thank you so much for the suggestions, I had been searching everywhere about the Comcast cc caption option you guys rule!

    Comment by Vanessa | April 5, 2013 @ 8:45 pm

  31. I have Comcast as cable provider, Vizio TV connected by HDMI to Motorola DCT3416 1 DVR. Pressed menu on the xfinity remote, selected setup, closed captioning setup, closed captioning on. It worked. So glad I did not have to jump through hoops.

    Comment by jay | April 29, 2013 @ 11:09 pm

  32. hi I can’t believe I found this info on the close-captioning I have been on the telephone for days with Telus [Canada] trying to figure out why my C.C disappeared and not one of their “techies” could give me an answer! After reading this article I phoned again and yes this true HDMI is the problem They are sending me a new type of cable free right away Thank you so much

    Comment by gloria gauvin | May 22, 2013 @ 9:09 pm

  33. I got what you intend, regards for posting .Woh I am lucky to find this website through google. “Those who corrupt the public mind are just as evil as those who steal from the public.” by Theodor Wiesengrund Adorno.

    Comment by Kristie Wiesner | June 14, 2013 @ 9:59 pm

  34. THANK YOU!!!!

    Comment by Robyn | June 22, 2013 @ 9:03 pm

  35. I have DirecTV with a DVR connected to my Sharp TV by HDMI. I can get captions using the DVR’s menu but I keep getting the text “$-Caption” on kind of a random basis which causes some loss of captions. Anyone know what this is about? It doesn’t seem to happen on other TVs with just basic high def receivers.

    Comment by Bob | July 14, 2013 @ 5:02 pm

  36. have comcast and just switched to a HD and had problems getting the caption to come one; TV manual says to call cable subscriber, so I did and they knew nothing said to go back to digital, so I googled and found it … using the TV remote – make sure captioning is ON & leave it on; with comcast dark gray remote, press MENU, then get to quick menu, press menu from there, then setup, then captions are right there. easy to turn off and on.

    Comment by carole | July 14, 2013 @ 9:51 pm

  37. We have a Sony tv with Direct TV. We have been getting captioning, but recently some sentences are cut off. “A COU” shows up on the screen. Then regular captioning resumes, but this pattern repeats.

    Any help would be appreciated.

    Comment by Pat | July 25, 2013 @ 6:58 pm

  38. this fix my comcast problem. Now have CC in HDMI!
    thnx, james

    Comment by JAMS VALENTINE | August 13, 2013 @ 12:24 pm

  39. Excellent information. Close Caption worked thank you!

    Comment by The Cable guy | August 15, 2013 @ 6:06 pm

  40. Can you tell me how to get CC mode for DirectTv first then ATT. I have DirectTv now and I’m going to switch over in a few months.

    Comment by CC Mode All Day | August 17, 2013 @ 9:36 am

  41. We have a Samsung HD TV connected via HDMI to a DISH hopper and a HDMI connected to a Samsung Blu-Ray. Captions configured through Dish’s settings work fine. Playing DVDs on the Blu-Ray will not display captions unless the disc is labeled with English subtitles. We hooked us an old DVD player through the composite ports. Captions work fine.

    How can we get the HDMI connections between the TV and the Blu-Ray to display captions while playing our older DVDs?

    Comment by Sue | August 23, 2013 @ 2:13 pm

  42. Thank you so much!! Due to your information we now have Closed Caption!! We’ve been frustrated for months but that’s all behind us because of your step by step instructions!! Thank you!! Thank you!! Thank you!!!

    Comment by Karen | August 24, 2013 @ 6:05 pm

  43. Have a Sony tv set without HDMI..bought a Sony BlueRay DVD player for watching NetFlix..no caption capability. Went to Sony to buy a better DVD player…but will not work with a component hookup.
    Have direct tv.
    Any help would be appreciated.

    Comment by joe goldstein | September 4, 2013 @ 4:05 pm

  44. I bought a Magnavox PVR to record TV shows. I don’t have a cable box, just a Time Warner cable coming directly into my home. The PVR has 1080p upconversion and is connected to the TV with HDMI. The Time Warner cable is connected directly to the PVR. The TV is a Samsung 27 inch monitor with tuner. The only way I get cc is when I view programming through the TV when connecting the Time Warner cable directly to it. I would like to record shows with my PVR and then view them (in HD) with cc. Why can’t the HDMI people solve this problem? Is it really that difficult?

    Comment by Ron Butcher | October 25, 2013 @ 5:59 pm

  45. This was a MOST helpful post- saved me hours of frustration in trying to figure out why my new television was missing something so basic as CC. Hopefully this is something the industry is actively working on and not just forgetting about.

    Comment by Cynthia Jendrejcak | January 8, 2014 @ 4:11 pm

  46. I want to thank you, this worked for us too!! With 3 small children it is hard to hear the television, we have depended on captions for years! We were so excited to get a new cable provider and a new LED Smart HDTV today. I was discouraged when the HDMI connection did not allow for captions. I went into my Encore DVR Cable box settings and I was able to change my CC Settings and they are now working on the HDMI connection. Thank you again for your information, you’ve made my day!

    Comment by Annon | January 22, 2014 @ 8:35 pm

  47. Thank you for this! My mom gets to watch tv because of you taking the time to do this !!!!

    Comment by Krystal collier | March 17, 2014 @ 9:14 pm

  48. Thank you! I have been trying to solve this for a while. Works great now.

    Comment by KEVIN | May 3, 2014 @ 1:36 am

  49. Thanks for the information was very helpfull

    Comment by lydia | June 16, 2014 @ 6:59 am

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