UK TV access report shows over compliance

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Wednesday, 28 October 2015 15:11pm

The UK regulator Ofcom has released its access compliance report for the first two quarters of 2015 and it shows that generally all quotas have been exceeded.

Left hand pointing remote control at TV screen

The access report covers captioning (called “subtitling” in the UK), audio description and sign language requirements for all services regulated by Ofcom. All of the domestic channels met and generally exceeded their requirements. Despite audio description having a maximum quota of 10%, many channels exceeded that by 3 or 4 times the quota.

The requirements also cover channels that are broadcast in Europe, but are based in the UK. They generally all met their quotas, with a number far exceeding the lower requirements. Two channels, Nickelodeon and Nickelodeon Junior, failed to meet their French quotas but after negotiations (as the quota is an annual target), Ofcom is satisfied that the overall target will be met during the second-half of 2016. The original non-compliance was due to major technical issues. These UK-based channels operate in Denmark, France, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Republic of Ireland and Sweden, with access services provided in the language of the program. These channels have a sign-language quota which can be replaced with an additional 5% of captioned programming, and all channels elected to provide more captioning.

The Ofcom requirements are set out in the access code document and show the different levels of channels and the applicable quotas for captioning, audio description and sign language. All quotas are annual but reported on a six-monthly basis.

Media Access Australia CEO, Alex Varley, said that the Ofcom system is a good model for other countries to adopt.

“The quotas are clear and the six-monthly compliance reporting is totally transparent and timely. As a consumer you have confidence that the quotas will be met, and often exceeded. As a channel provider you know that the system is properly policed and everybody is doing the right thing. Overall it creates an environment where everybody is working together to bring more access.”

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