Trial of audio description on ABC iview to start in 2015

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Monday, 1 September 2014 15:06pm

The Minister of Communications, Malcolm Turnbull, has advised Media Access Australia that a trial of audio description will commence on the ABC’s catch-up TV service, iview, in April 2015.

The service will initially be available on iPhones, then expand to other platforms including Android, via PCs and Hybrid Broadcast Broadband TV (HbbTV) by August 2015. (HbbTV is the platform that will host the Freeview Plus service, due to be launched on 2 September.)

The trial will last for 15 months, and provide at least 14 hours of audio described content per week, with a mix of drama/entertainment, documentary/current affairs and children’s programming. Currently, the only catch-up TV service in the world to provide audio description is the BBC’s iPlayer.

The ABC will be consulting with organisations such as BCA, Vision Australia, the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) and Media Access Australia on the appropriate mix of content and how to inform people who will benefit from the trial about it. As it is expected that the trial will throw up some technical issues, the ABC will make regular progress reports during it.

A trial of audio description on television took place ABC1 in 2012. Following this, it was expected that there would be discussions about the introduction of a regular service, but these did not take place. In July 2012, BCA lodged 21 disability discrimination complaints against the Federal Government and the ABC for failing to provide an audio description service on television. Conciliation meetings, brokered by the Australian Human Rights Commission, commenced earlier this year and are ongoing. The Department of Communications has said that the iview trial will go ahead regardless of the results of this conciliation process.

For more information, our catch-up TV page provides a listing of available access services in Australia and abroad.

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