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(generated from captions) statement, in that question is

the problem, isn't it? And the

potential I think. There's

already some really good

initiatives going on around the

country where local, State and

Federal Government are

cooperating and delivering

services but it's only

happening in a patchy way. Can

you give me a quick example of

that? In the town of bannic

burn in Victoria just outside

Geelong there's a family centre

has been built in the last

couple of years with a lot of

capital investment from both

State and local government and

in that centre they're

delivering child care which is subsidised by the Federal

Government, kindergarten

subsidised by the State

Government, maternal and child

health, other community health

services, playgroups, toy

library, a whole range of

family supports that that

community has decided it needs.

So it can happen and it is

happening. What's really been

missing is the Federal Government component that's

been the smallest, and I think

the exciting thing about this

initiative is maybe the Federal

Government is now coming to the

State governments have been party to match what local and

doing. But there's also the

sector itself. There are

historic differences and tensions between different

professions within the early

childhood sector. With

teachers sometimes setting

themselves up against child

care workers and nurses seeing

themselves as a thing apart and

that's partly due to that

siloed way that Government

funding has been put into the

sector. It's really encouraged

the professions to step back

into their corn scpers hasn't

encouraged services and the

professionals to come out of

their Cornes and find ways of

respecting each other's working clob rattively and

professional contribution. So

for these parent and child

centres to be successful,

they'll really need someone

employed specifically to help

overcome those historical

differences and encourage the

professionals to learn how to

respect each other's special

ations and draw on those

specialisations so the families

and children get a seamless

service rather than getting

education down this end of the

corridor and health up that end

of the corridor. That's not

how families work. Is that

where COAG has to step in where

you've got to get levels of

working together. I imagine

the spillage and loss of money

along the way working through

those levels of Government

would be substantial? I think

it is a COAG issue, I think

care is a COAG issue, not just

child care but elder care and

disability care. It's very

fragmented in those three

areas. If we can get the child

care model right maybe it will

assist in getting the older

care and disability model right

too. Put it down to local and

State Government. 12 years is a

long time, 2020 is the proposed

date for this idea. Children

born today would not enjoy the

benefits of such a proposal if

it gets up. Do you see any

reason why we can't get it

unway right now? It seems we

have some differences of

opinion, I'm sure that's

reflected in the community as

well and they'll have to be

overcome. It'd be fantastic if

we could click our fingers and

overnight it'd all be settled.

It's taken a long time, I

suspect the implementation will

take time as well. It will vary

from State to State. There are

om States already well down the

path of investing in integrated

looks like the Federal children's services. Now it

Government will be coming to

the party they'll be able to

move much more quickly. I

think even in those States and

those communities where they're

not ready to act on this yet,

if the Federal Government does

adopt this as a policy goal and

invests funds in it, it will

inspire those who are working

in the sector who know from

their own practice and know

from the research that what's

good for children and good for

families is an integrated

service response and they're

trying their best to do that at

the local level. Even if there

isn't structural change

immediately within their

community it will encourage and

energise people who are really

trying to deliver services in

that way on the ground. I

think we'll see all sorts of

innovations as communities come

together to figure out ways of

better providing integrated

services even before there's a

facility to make it

easier. We'll see if it even

makes it past the first post

which is at the 2020 summit

where it has to get up. Thank

you both for joining us

tonight.A national meeting of

Environment Ministers has

failed to reach an agreement on

plans to phase out plastic

bags. There'll be no ban or

Australia and the Federal levy on plastic bag use in

Government's deadline to end

plastic bag use by the end of

the year has been abandoned.

The issue will be back on the

table in November and some

States will go ahead with their

own plans but the outcome has

left environment groups shaking

their heads with

disappointment. Rachel

Carbonell reports. Australians

use billions of plastic bags

every year. Environment groups

say they're a litter problem

and a threat to marine life.

Many African countries have

already banned free plastic bags, whereas European

countries like Germany and

Ireland have imposed taxes on

them and China has announced it

will ban them by June. The

Australian Government wanted to

phase plastic bags out by the

end of the year, but today that

plan collapsed. South

Australia's deeply disappointed

at the outcome of this meeting.

After six years the council was

still unable to come to a nationally consistent approach

to regulate the phasing out of

single use plastic

Minister Peter Garrett watched bags. Federal Environment

the plan sink because of what

it would cost consumers. We

want to see use reduced but we

want a comprehensive way that

recognises the challenges but

does not impose burdens on

Australian families already

feeling the pressure of price

increases in cost of living. I

suggest there's a lot of

industry influence going on

here, which is disappointing

because industry is one sector

of the Australian public. NSW

was one of the parties that

baulked at the cost of a bag

ban or levy. We're very

conscious in NSW that with

rising interest rates,

incredible rental stress,

especially in the Sydney

market. ACCC inquiries into

grocery prices, fuel costs, we

weren't keen to have something

to slug working families at the

checkout yet again. But the

Federal Government says

progress has been made. We've

identified the need for an

urgent working group to be

established between Government

and industry to look at making

sure retailers are exploring

all the options. We've agreed

to accelerate efforts and bring

forward information as a matter

of urgency to us on the

question of biode gradable

bags. That's not enough for South Australia, which will now

go it alone. We will continue

to proceed to introduce all the

steps necessary to bring about

a ban on plastic bags in South

Australia commencing January,

2009. Victoria will introduce a

limited pilot program where a

charge of 10 to 25 cents is

imposed on each plastic bag.

The proceeds will go into a

fund to help phase out plastic

bags. We think this scheme will

set a precedent and a momentum

across this nation to finally

take some action and get rid of

a plastic bags once and for all from our supermarkets. Retailers have

put their weight behind the

Victorian scheme. I have to be

frank and say I don't think an

outright ban is practical.

From the point of view of

shoppers they need to have an

option and we need to really see on the ground what the

effect is going to be of taking

plastic bags out of the

system. Environment groups say

that's a copout. It's quite

simple that there are already

alternatives in the shops.

People already know how to use

the green bag. Others despaired

at the inability of Environment

Ministers to solve a relatively

straightforward problem. It's

very disappointing. We're

facing big issues like climate

change, water issues through

our drought, we need to be

making these small low-lying

fruit decisions. Today's

meeting did agree to

investigate a national

recycling scheme similar to

South Australia's system of

refunds for re cycleable

bottles. Ministers meet again

in November. Now a quick look

at the weather.

'Lateline Business' coming up

in just a moment. If you'd

like to look back at tonight's

interview with Juliet Bourke or

Barbara Romeril or review our

stories or transcripts you can

visit our website. Now

'Lateline Business' with Ali

Moore. Tonight - fundraising,

Wesfarmers makes plans to

refinance loans it took out to

buy Coles. Bringing equity into

the situation is probably

sensible. Another day, another

rally - is the worst over for

the stock market? I can't put

my hand on my heart and say

yes. There could be skeletons

in the cupboards of American

banks and possibly here as the

impact of high interest rates

starts to bite. And, whitegoods

shutdown. Rising currencies

and labour costs push Fisher

and Paykel into cheaper countries. The decision has

been an extremely tough one for

a company that's so proud of

its New Zealand heritage,

without a doubt. To the

markets and shares rose for a

third day in a row bolstered by

the soaring price of oil and

more takeover talk for BHP

Billiton and Rio Tinto. The

All Ords put on 53 points, the

ASX200 gained 49 points. In

Japan the Nikkei rose nearly 2%

lifted by good profits out of

the US. The optimism spread to

Hong Kong where the Hang Seng

gained 381 points and in

London, the FTSE has fallen.

We'll cross to London a little

later in the program.

Wesfarmers was forced to go

public today after details of a

planned capital raising were

leaked to the media. The Wes

conglomerate needs to refinance

debt used for Australia's

biggest takeover - the purchase

of the Coles Group. While

there's speculation a capital

injection will come via a

rights issue, Wesfarmers may go

for a mix of debt and equity if

it can negotiate a decent price

with the banks. Desley Coleman

reports. Wesfarmers $22

billion takeover of Coles was

always going to put pressure on

the group's balance sheet.

Since then, credit markets have

deteriorated and the cost of

debt has sky rocketed. Bringing

equity into the situation is

probably sensible and it would

give them a lot of finality to

it. This now appears to be

Wesfarmers preferred strategy

for restructuring a large chunk

of $4 billion in short-term

debt. A leaked newspaper

report has forced the group

into a trading halt and into

confirming its intentions ahead

of Tuesday's planned investor

briefing.

Around $700 million of the

refinancing package has already

been raised from a US debt

issue. But that has come with

a very expensive 11% interest

rate. At that price Peter

Warnes from MorningStar says

refinancing through credit

markets is now too costly. If

they were to raise another $2.5

billion by debt that would cost

at least $250 million a year in

interest. A similar amount of

money raised in the equity

market at around about 32, $33

a share on a similar dividend

that they're currently paying

would probably cost them about

$150 million and , therefore,

it's cheaper albeit that it's a

little bit more permanent. For

the mainly retail investor base

a capital raising by Wesfarmers

means selling new stock, which

could dilute shareholder

value. I think the capital

raising's more likely to be a

renounceable rights issue at a significant discount to the current share price. So that

gives holders a chance to

either take up their rights or

sell the rights into the

market. And because it's a

rights issue and pro rata there

effectively won't be any dilution for

shareholders. Brent Mitchell

says Wesfarmers resources

division gives the company the

luxury of considering both

credit and equity options for

refinancing. Stronger coal

prices over the last 12 months

and the outlook for stronger

coal prices in the next 12

months will provide a

significant cash flow boost, as

well as profitable boost to

Wesfarmers. And that'll

underpin growth in the rest of

the operations. While the cost

of credit is a major concern

for corporates like Wesfarmers,

Australian banks still have

access to credit markets. ANZ

recently tapped over $1 billion

in US bonds. ANZ did that deal

at 128 basis points over BBSW

so the credit risk precede yum

that the market's associating

with a deal is 120 basis points

over the swap rate and

previously, a year ago, that

would have been in the 30 to 40

basis points range. That's an

indication of how much spreads have widened in this

crisis. Wesfarmers is expected

to reveal its refinancing

strategy at its investor

briefing next week. Until

then, ilts shares will remain

in a trading halt. Woodside

Petroleum says production fell

in the first quarter because of

tropical cyclones, maturing oil

fields and a plant closure.

Output dropped 4% to $17.2

million sorry, down a million

barrels from a year earlier.

Woodside has confirmed a

forecast of up to 86 million

barrels. Shares in Australia's

second biggest oil and gas

producer gained just short of

2%. Those rumours bhpd planned

to increase its takeover bid

for Rio Tinto, as well as talk

that China was serious about a

play for BHP helped send the

local market higher today.

Shares have now gained 8% over

the past month. Investors are

tentively dipping their toes

back in. Is the worst still to

come? Andrew Robertson takes a

look. The last five months

have been a brutal reminder

that markets go down, as well

as up, with the benchmark

ASX200 still 1% below last

November's record high. But

signs of life are

re-emerging. It reminds me a

bit like the scene in 'Jaws'

where the sharks have attacked

and everyone was out but now

people are starting to go back

into the market, back into the

water. It does seem safe, but

people are still nervous. Over

the past month, the two biggest

sectors of the market have been

leading the way with the

Financial Index up 10% and the

Materials Index, which includes

many of the big miners, adding

8. Brent Mitchell is the

banking analyst for Wilson HTM and says despite the headline-grabbing problems at

ANZ the market is realising

that most Australian banks are

in good shape. Also we've had

credit default spreads for

Australia starting to contract which is generally beneficial

for the cost of credit which is

helpful for banks . Also they've been able to get

funding away, which is very

important for them and deposit

growth has been strong. Rio

Tinto was one of the best

performing stocks on the market

today adding 4% amid rumours

that bhpd would increase its

$166 billion takeover bid. BHP

which is the market's biggest

stock rose strongly, up 1.5%.

Fat Prophets resources analyst

Gavin Wendt says while it's too

early to know which way the

takeover will go, interest from

China is adding to the surge in

both companies shares. They had

be very keen to get a seat at

the table in respect of a stake

in BHP and a stake in Rio

Tinto, whatever happens as far

as a merger is

concerned. However, looking at

the resources sector as a

whole, Gavin Wendt says only

the larger companies share

prices are benefiting from the recent recovery in

commodities. There seems to be

this disconnect between the big companies and the smaller companies and I think a lot of

that has to do with investor nervousness. Investors are

still very much nervous about

investing in the equity market. While the stock market

is looking rosier than it was a

few weeks ago, the experts

Lateline Business has spoken to

say it's too early to predict

if we're seeing the beginnings

of a sustained recovery. For example, Brett Le Mesurier says

the financial sector which has

a weighting of nearly 40% of

the market still has a number

of dark clouds hanging over

it. While it's easier for banks

to borrow now and credit

spreads have declined, the

likelihood of ongoing decline

social security not significant

and, in fact, the spreads on

mortgage bank securities are

increasing. There are still

negative pressures. It's those

issues in the financial

secialgt that make Colonial

First State's Hans Kunnen

unwilling to say that we've

seen the bottom of the

market. I can't put my hand on

my heart and say yes, because

there could be skeletons in the

cupboards of American banks and

possibly here as the impact of

high interest rates starts to

bite. We don't know the full

impact yet. For Hans Kunnen

that full impact won't be known

until we get through the next

company reporting season in

August:

We're nearing the end of

another busy week on Wall

Street and a number of blue

chip stocks have reported their

latest earnings or are about

to. At the same time we've

seen the release of some key US

economic data. For his

analysis we're joined from

London by Stephen Pope chief

global strategist at Cantor

Fitzgerald. Let's start with

the latest earnings numbers out

of the US. Just in the last

couple of hours Merrill Lynch

has unveiled a $2 billion loss

and plans for 4,000 job

cuts? Yes, you start looking

into these numbers and there's

around $6.5 billion of

write-downs spread across asset

classes. We're struggling with

4,000 job losses that's going

to be taken off their payroll.

It's difficult times and Mr

Thaine who took over from being

in charge of the New York Stock

Exchange is facing an uphill

battle. It needs to be showing

it's performing as well as Morgan Stanley and Sachs and

the like. Everyone was

expecting a bad result, but was this worse than what the market

had forecast? I think to an

extent we believe probably

priced in about the $6 billion

write-down. I don't think

that's a shock. There's no

real sense that for Merrill's

the worst is over. There could be more write-downs that they

have to announce and bring

forward. Also people are going

to be looking and saying, "What

exactly is the strategy they're

employing upon the Merrill

Lynch group". He's a good shape

pair of hands and he's trying

to get bad news out of the way

very quickly. Will there be

more to come? Probably a big

struggle. Something like 10% of

the workforce, it's a big hit.

If we move to the airline,

south-west and Continental hurt

by high fuel prices? With

south-west they've always had a

history of in long-term lead

hedging in jet contracts. For

every gallon they have to pay

21% more than a year ago. It

has impacted upon them. They,

plus Continental will be

looking at those routes they

fly that aren't paying their

way. In the case of south-west

they've made plans to retire a

number of planes and they're

probably looking to expand that

sort of level of retirement in

the year ahead. At the minute

aviation is not a very good

industry. We've looked at I

suppose the dark side and it

would seem that this whole

reporting season did get off to

a bad start with the Alcoa...

pretty dismal numbers. Besides

what we've talked about, there

have been not too bad results

in recent days? That's right. Through yesterday we were

pleased to see that Intel came

out beating estimates by 20

cents a share and gave strong

guidance, which was

encouraging. Then, of course,

we had eBay coming through

about 3 or 4 cents per share

better as well. Those numbers

conspire to give the US

indicies a good strong

performance in the face of

yesterday. Profit-taking

today, we expect that. We were

still reeling after the General

Electric figures. A lot of the

problems were in the consumer

financing sector. Other

regions of their business

weren't bad. Safeway were

looking good. Generally I

think it's going to be a mixed

bag and maybe better than anticipated on the non-financial sectors. What

about what's due out tonight

and over the next couple of

days? What are the key ones? I

think looking forwards you're

going to have to start thinking

about Pfizer. The

pharmaceutical products are on

a backfoot at the current time

and they have litigation class

actions going forward. Also tomorrow we'll have Citigroup

coming through. What's the

extent of the write-downs

running forward there? Are

there going to be encouraging

equity financing, people coming

in to invest in the group.

Those are the two heavyweight

names I'm looking at. Perhaps

on a board global process

Caterpillar. They are a name well-known in construction.

Seeing that Jim Owens his chief

executive has been talking the

stock up with upbeat comments in the first half of this year.

I hope he can deliver. On the

economic front we've seen a

number of numbers, particularly

the CPI numbers out yesterday.

Are you of the view that after

those numbers the Fed has more

room to cut rates? They've got

to. They've opened up the

window, who can borrow money

and what securities can be

exchanged for Fed funding.

They've got to bring that rate

again so 4.75 looks a given by

the end of the April.

Personally I'd like more. I've

said that before - I'll be

quiet on that front. What I

think you're going to see is

economics aside, it is

difficult to call at the

current time. We had a

surprise to the upside with the

Empire manufacturing. That was

New York State's industrial

activity. Later we get

Philadelphia Fed. Capacity use

was steady, so there are

signals there is a base level

being hit in the economy. What

are we going to see in terms of

consumer confidence and retail

sales were only up this week

because of the rise in petrol

prices. You talk there about

base level in the economy and

you said earlier with Merrill

Lynch, the worst may not be

over for them, certainly in

this country it's been noted

that volumes in the US over the past couple of weeks have been

pretty low. As one commentator

has pointed out, perhaps that means that the conviction

behind the selling is waning.

Do you think that we could in

terms of the market be getting

near bottom? Is that a call for

the foolhardy or the

brave? Certainly you've got to

be courageous to pick out where

the base level will be in any

stock market. What I tend to

run is look at how the indicies

is running in between channels.

What we've got is the S&P 500

as a broad index is mid channel

what we call a corrective

channel that goes down, but

they're mid stream. I think

what you'll see is it's not

going to be until the end of

the second quarter you'll see a

day by day by day consistent

movement to the upside. So we

are finding buying coming

through and the fact there's

not so much selling order in

our dealing room makes me

encouraged. There's plenty of cash-rich investors across

Europe and other parts of the

world looking for

opportunities. Today, go and

look some Korean companies,

they've gone down against the

US dollar. In Germany, people

are cautious but they're

itching with this money, it's

burning in their pockets. It's

got to go somewhere. Let's put

it in Australia. You did

actually make a call there. Second of the second quarter,

we might hold it to you. Hope

to talk to you again. Thanks

for your time. Bye bye. In

Australia there's more evidence

interest rate rises are hitting

consumers' Walt s with credit

card -- wallets.an average

balance of $3,085 for every

card. Australia's import bill

continues to grow. Imports

totalled $16.8 billion in March

a 1% rise from February.

Fisher and Paykel is a brand well-known to many Australians.

The New Zealand company which

has a plant in Brisbane today

announced it would be moving

most of its operations overseas

to Thailand and Mexico. The

manufacturer says it can't compete with cheaper overseas-made products. The

move is part of a worrying

trend for local manufacturers.

Michael Troy reports. Fisher

and Paykel has been one of New Zealand's great business success stories, but workers at

the company's Dunedin plant

were not celebrating this

morning with news hundreds of

jobs will go. If they were

loyal to us they would have

kept us here. They're worried

about the dollar, not the people. Fisher and Paykel was

a family company, it's not one

now. The decision has been a

tough one for a company so

proud of its New Zealand

heritage, without a doubt. A

manufacturer for 70 years the

whitegoods maker has grown to

be a major international

player. Recently it's been

struggling to compete in the

global market because of a high

New Zealand and Australian

dlafr and high labour costs.

As hard as our people have

worked, they've tried, the

productivity is great in that

plant, they've worked hard on

cost down, but we've run out of

head room I'm afraid. More than

1,000 jobs will be lost in a

strategy the company says will

save $42 million a year. Sites

in Australia and New Zealand will be shut down and sold to

pay for the $100 million

relocation. To aid sales in

North America, the Dunedin cooker manufacturing plant will

be moved to a converted

Whirlpool plant in Mexico,

which is located in a free

trade zone and can take

advantage of cheap labour costs

without attracting tariffs. In

Australia, this refridgeration

production facility in Brisbane

will be moved to a new plant

being built in Thailand. The

AMWU is appalled and we are not

prepared to stand by and allow

this to happen. We say that

both the Federal and State

Government needs to get into a dialogue along with this

company. We're deeply saddened

by the job losses for the

obvious uncertainty and

upheaval the news will bring to

many families. Fisher and

Paykel believed it was best to

inform the employees and the

market of the intentions as

soon as possible. While the

workers are angry at the

decision, investors gave it the

thumbs up. Fisher and Paykel's

shares rose nearly 12% to

$2.10. We do have some very

good success stories in our manufacturing industry and on a

day like today it's important

that we don't just see our

manufacturing future as doom

and gloom. Kevin Rudd has

stated he doesn't want to be

the Prime Minister of a country

that doesn't make anything, but manufacturers are suffering. There's a number of problems facing Australia at

the moment. One is inflation,

two is the credit crunch and thirdly, it's international

competition. Australian

business groups believe the Government needs to encourage more innovation in the

sector. We have to look at the

global webs of enterprise where

we can best compete, where our

production or services meet

demands and fill niche markets.

There are up and down sides to

globalisation but as an overall proposition Australia has been

tremendously advantaged by

globalisation. We may lose

jobs to some Asian countries,

for example, but we all know

that we are being made

tremendously wealthy as a

country as a result of our

trade with Asian countries like

China and India. For the

moment, the workers at Fisher

and Paykel face an uncertain

future, with many of their jobs

to go within 18 months. Trade

Minister Simon Crean has

arrived in Beijing to

kick-start stalled free trade

negotiations with China. After

meeting with his Chinese

counterpart Mr Crean says there

appears to be new impetus for

reaching an agreement. Charlotte Glennie reports from

the Chinese capital. It's a

relationship worth $50 billion

US in annual 2way trade and

it's growing year on year.

China is now Australia's

largest trading partner and

second la, export market.

Australia is China's ninth

biggest trading partner and

both sides see huge potential

for growth. Australia's Trade

Minister Simon Crean is in

Beijing to try to speed up

reaching a free trade deal with

China. He's held talks with

China's commerce minister,

which he described as excellent

although at times

hard-nosed. There are

sensitivities on both sides.

We discussed a number

today. Negotiations between

Australia and China for a free trade agreement began here

three years ago. By the end of

last year the talks had stalled

due to a number of

disagreements. But after a

visit here by Australia's Prime

Minister Kevin Rudd last week

where he met China's top

leaders, both sides are hoping

that there'll be new momentum

in the talks. After four hours

of talks in China's capital, the Australian Trade Minister

was upbeat. The breakthrough

that was achieved by the Prime

Minister last week in

unfreezing the stalled FTA

talks has not only had

significant impact, it is being

acted on with a great

determination to aim to

conclude an FTA in a timely manner. Last week New Zealand

became the first western

country to sign a free trade

agreement with China, however between Australia and China there remain many

obstacles. There's a lot of

sticking points. Of course if

we're to get an outcome we need

a better offer on tariffs.

We've indicated that. On

services, we've previously

tabled a large ly -- large list

of issues. China has 800 million farmers and is

reluctant to make oo too many

concessions regarding

agriculture. He says Australia

also wants China to open up its

investment and services markets

- a point he's emphasised to Australian businessmen in

Beijing. Our services sector is

now 80% of the domestic economy

yet its contribution to exports

is only 30%. There's got to be great opportunity for

us. Foreigners face substantial

barriers to doing business in

China. When it comes to

actually meeting with

governments anding with able to

apply architectural principles

and business practices with

them at that level they want to

do that more in in-house. It

allows us to get more free

access to them in this

particular area. China is a

market like no other. Doing business anywhere is

tough. More tough here, do you

think? Because it's a global

market. You're competing with

people from all over the world,

all over the world. Yeah, it's

hard but I think it's hard

anywhere right now. China's

insatiable demand for

Australian resources has

fuelled an export boom but the

price of iron ore has been an

ongoing source of tension

between the two sides. The

issue was raised again during

these latest talks. Now a look at tomorrow's business diary.

A look at what's making news

in the business sections of

tomorrow's papers. The 'Age'

says Opes Prime's

administrators are considering

taking legal action against the

ANZ. The 'Australian Financial

Review' leads on the same

story. The 'Australian' says a

Federal Court ruling has left

National Australia Bank staring

at a $600 million tax bill and

the 'Sydney Morning Herald'

says Wesfarmers' capital

injection will take the form of

a writes issue with

shareholders offered a 20%

discount. The FTSE is down 56

points the Dow futures are down

79 the market opens in a

minute's time. If you want to

look back at the program, you

can visit our website where you

can watch the show online or

download it as a vodcast. We'd

love to get your feedback.

We'll be back on Monday. For

now, I'm Ali Moore. Goodnight. Closed Captions by CSI