International policy and legislation

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United Kingdom


Ofcom is the UK media and communications regulator—similar to the Australian Communications and Media Authority in Australia. 

Ofcom has the power to create minimum access requirements for television, and the power to enforce those targets, including using sanctions (financial penalties) if there are serious breaches to obligations.

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Canada has a Charter of Rights and Freedoms annexed to its Constitution.  Section 15(1) reads:

Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination and, in particular, without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability.

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Canadian coalition creates Access 2020


A coalition of Canadian accessibility organisations has formed to achieve full captioning and audio description on television content in Canada by 2020. The aptly named Access 2020 will use the CRTC (the Canadian media regulator) hearings into vertical integration in May 2011 as the starting point for this new policy approach.

Access 2020 is taking the view that 1% of TV ownership transactions from now until 2015 should be spent on accessibility research, standards development and third-party monitoring of access.  The crux of the argument is that media organisations gain significant benefits from being allowed to vertically integrate, and consumers should also receive benefits, including proper disability access. 

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US communications regulator requests caption feedback

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The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has asked the public to provide feedback on the need to revise its caption rules. This follows an earlier consultation process, conducted in 2005, which resulted in a revision of the caption complaint process, and required television stations to make contact information easily available for consumers who wish to complain about problems with captions.

The FCC notes that a number of developments have taken place since the last invitation for feedback, called a ‘Notice of Proposed Rulemaking’, was issued. These include the achievement of many of the FCC’s caption benchmarks, the switch from analog to digital television in the US, and advances in captioning technology including speech-to-text (or voice recognition) technology.

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