ACMA releases new Television Captioning Quality Standard

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Wednesday, 5 June 2013 13:28pm

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) today released its long awaited Television Captioning Quality Standard, which for the first time imposes obligations on broadcasters to ensure that the captions on their programs are readable, comprehensible and accurate.

The ACMA was given the power to draft the new standard as part of amendments to the Broadcasting Services Act which were passed last year. A series of meetings were held in which ACMA consulted with community representative groups, broadcasters and caption suppliers while formulating the standard.

The standard will be used by the ACMA when it deals with complaints from the public about poor quality captions. The factors it will consider include spelling and punctuation, the synchronisation of the captions with speech, whether all speech and other important audio content has been captioned, and whether different speakers have been identified.

In a media release, ACMA Chairman Chris Chapman said, “The Australian Communications and Media Authority recognises the fundamental value of captioning in ensuring television services are accessible to all Australians.”

Prior to the introduction of the new standard, the ACMA had only a limited ability to deal with complaints about caption quality. While the quality of pre-prepared captions on Australian television is usually very good, there has been an increase in live captioning in recent years. The quality of this can be extremely variable, causing great frustration among caption users.

Media Access Australia applauds the release of Television Caption Quality Standard, and hopes that it will lead to significant improvements in caption quality across all the networks.

The ACMA has produced a video (with captions and Auslan) explaining the new standard, while other videos explaining how to make complaints to the ACMA about caption quality can be found on the Captioning obligations on free-to-air TV page of its website.

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