Digital TV regulation submissions released

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Thursday, 14 May 2015 12:04pm

The Federal Government has released the submissions it has received in response to its review of digital television regulations, with a number of them focusing on accessibility issues.

Silhouette of a man with glasses watching TV. Image credit: XiXiDu via Flickr

Media Access Australia’s submission to the review makes four key recommendations:

  • Caption quotas should be introduced for digital multi-channels (including ABC2, 7Two, GO! and One HD). Currently, the only programs required to be captioned on these channels are repeats originally broadcast with captions on a primary channel.
  • All catch-up TV services should provide captions by the end of 2015, and if they fail to do so, the Government should make this compulsory by legislation. Currently, only the ABC’s iview, SBS On Demand and Plus7 provide captions.
  • The caption reporting requirements imposed on broadcasters should be simplified, and should also include the multi-channels.
  • The Department of Communications should set up a consultation process involving industry, consumers and suppliers to determine a plan to introduce audio description to Australian television.

In its submission, the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) questions the discussion paper’s assertion that “all Australians can now access the full range of television services wherever they might live”.

It notes that that people who are blind or vision impaired do not have full access because there is no provision of audio description, while closed captioning for the Deaf and hearing impaired is only mandatory on the primary channels between 6am and midnight.

In a joint submission, Vision Australia and Blind Citizens Australia call on the Government to introduce a regulatory requirement for the provision of audio description on television.

The submission notes that “The Consultation Paper does not refer to audio description (although it does refer to the requirements for captioning). However, the complete absence of audio description on Australian television, despite protracted systemic advocacy from the blindness and low vision sector, represents a failure of the current regulatory regime to ensure that the needs and rights of people who are blind or have low vision are being addressed.”

All the submissions can be downloaded from the Consultation Paper: Digital Television Regulation page on the Department of Communications’ website.

You may also like:

  • More on TV & Video accessibility, including captions and audio description on TV, as well as reviews and how-to guides
  • The ADonTV website, covering the progress of getting audio description on Australian television
  • Everything you need to know about catch-up TV accessibility in Australia and abroad
  • Our page on video on demand accessibility
  • DVD & Blu-ray accessibility, covering captions and audio description, as well as where to find audio described DVDs

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