TV Captioning Gets Go Ahead
26 June 2012 at 11:52 am
New legislation to improve captioning on Australian television to assist the deaf and hearing impaired has passed the Australian Senate and has been welcomed by Not for Profit organisations and the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC).
Captioning assists people who are deaf or have a hearing impairment by providing a text version of speech and other sounds during television broadcasts.
The legislation will require commercial television broadcasting licensees and national broadcasters to provide a captioning service for all television programs between 6 am and midnight by 1 July 2014.
Disability Discrimination Commissioner, Graeme Innes said the focus in the legislation towards increasing captioning services should be applauded.
“Over 2 million Australians who are deaf or have hearing impairment will have better access to a greater range of television programs, which is particularly important for the social and cultural participation of people with disability in Australia,” Innes said.
“The move to a more systematic and proactive approach to ensuring equitable access to electronic media for people with a disability is a positive one.
“Given the number of people with hearing impairments will increase with Australia’s ageing population, in the spirit of the legislation I encourage broadcasters to caption television broadcasts where ever possible.”
The Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) said they are hopeful that this will mean more pre-prepared captioning and the use of live scrolling closed captions will only be used during truly live broadcasts.
“We’d like to congratulate Senator Stephen Conroy and Parliament for the bi-partisan passage of this important legislation,” ACCAN Disability Policy Officer Wayne Hawkins said.
“Up until now, the quality of closed captions on television has varied considerably, with delayed, inaccurate and occasionally incomprehensible captions making TV viewing a very hit-and-miss experience for many Deaf and hearing-impaired people.”
It is expected that by 2020, more than five million Australians are expected to be affected by hearing loss.
Subscription television licensees will also have to meet increased annual captioning targets, according to the AHRC.
The Deafness Forum of Australia released on their website their position that captioning should be provided on all free to air television channels, subscription (Pay) TV channels, DVDs and videos.
The new bill amends the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 and will require the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) to to develop a captioning standard to determine the quality of captioning services as well as requiring broadcasters to transmit emergency warnings in the form of text and speech and captioned where possible.
Over the next three years obligations are to increase between 2.5 per cent and 10 per cent a year, across a range of movie, entertainment and news subscription services.