The new service on Prime will focus on local content funded by New Zealand on Air, and prime time content. The not-for-profit organisation Able is New Zealand’s sole broadcast caption supplier and it receives the NZ$2.8 million per annum funding to provide both captioning and audio description services. The announcement coincided with Able’s second birthday.
Expanding the captioning service to Prime also required channel owner Sky to upgrade its broadcast equipment to enable it to play out closed captions.
The funding to Able provides around 265 hours of captioned content each week and 35 hours of audio description each week. The audio description services cover a wide genre of programs that are outlined in the Able AD online guide, but are only on two channels.
According to Able CEO Wendy Youens captions are used by 11% of the New Zealand population, including Deaf, hearing impaired and people for whom English is a second language.
The New Zealand Captioning Working Group welcomed the expansion of the service. However, as the main captioning advocacy organisation in New Zealand it said that there was still a long way to go until New Zealand achieves the goal of 24-hour captioning, 7 days per week across all channels.
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