The ACMA launches broadcasting codes inquiry

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Tuesday, 4 June 2013 10:34am

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has launched an inquiry into broadcasting codes of practice and whether they are keeping up with the rapid changes taking place in Australian society.

In a discussion paper, ‘Contemporary community safeguards inquiry’, the ACMA notes that one of its ‘enduring concepts’ is: “Australians should enjoy reasonable and equitable access to the media and communications infrastructure, services and content necessary to promote their effective participation in society and the economy.”

The core captioning requirements for broadcasters are contained in the Broadcasting Services Act 1992, while various industry codes of practice also deal with aspects of captioning. One of the questions the ACMA is asking is whether the concept of ‘access’ should be “included as a guiding core principle in contemporary broadcasting codes of practice”. It also notes that it has drawn a connection between ‘access’ and ‘captioning interventions’, and asks for comments on whether this is reasonable, or whether there are other interventions or safeguards which should be included.

The various codes of practice differ in how they deal with captioning (for example, Free TV’s code, which covers the commercial free-to-air broadcasters, states that a station must “Provide adequate advice to relevant viewers if scheduled closed captioning cannot be transmitted,” but SBS’s code has no such statement). Another question being asked by the ACMA is whether caption requirements should be consistent across the codes.

The discussion paper can be downloaded in PDF and Word formats from the ‘Community safeguards inquiry’ page on the ACMA’s website.

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