Australian Human Rights Commission rejects subscription TV caption exemption application

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Monday, 20 September 2010 15:42pm

The Australian Human Rights Commission (the AHRC) has refused an application for exemption under section 55 of the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth) (DDA) by the Australian Subscription Television and Radio Association (ASTRA).

ASTRA, whose members include FOXTEL and AUSTAR, earlier this year sought a five-year temporary exemption from the DDA, meaning that the AHRC would not hear complaints against the members of ASTRA on the grounds of disability discrimination. In exchange for the exemption, ASTRA had offered to raise the level of captioning on 65 of the 91 channels operated by its members.

The AHRC has previously granted such temporary exemptions to subscription television broadcasters.

In making its decision, the AHRC noted the following in particular as reasons to reject the application:

  • The applicants provided insufficient evidence as to why 26 channels should be exempt from being required to provide captions altogether
  • The proposed levels of captioning were too low to be considered an improvement in reducing disability discrimination
  • Granting a temporary exemption in the terms of the application, such as the request that future subscription broadcasters would be automatically exempt from the DDA, were unacceptable given the objects of the DDA

The full application, submissions, and letters between the AHRC and ASTRA can be found on the AHRC website. More information can also be found in our Research & Policy section.

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