Closed Captioning assists deaf and hearing impaired people access television programs.
Closed Captioning is the text presentation of dialogue and other relevant sounds such as laughter and music that appear on screen as part of the program content.
Subscription television assists the deaf and hearing impaired by captioning thousands of hours of television content on over 70 channels across all programming genres. There is no extra cost to subscribers for captioning services on subscription television platforms.
The Broadcasting Services Amendment (Improved Access to Television Services) Act 2012 (the Act) came into effect on 29 June 2012. The Act amends the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 (BSA) providing for captioning requirements on subscription, commercial and national television broadcasting licensees. The main features of the new legislation for subscription television are:
- Captioning targets vary across up to nine categories of service, with minimum numbers of services in each category required to be captioned;
- Over time, captioning targets per service will increase, while the number of exempt services will decrease;
- Subscription television licensees can apply to the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) for an exemption order or target reduction orders, on grounds of unjustifiable hardship (commercial television broadcasting licensees can also apply for exemption or target reduction orders);
- Some subscription television channels that are provided on more than one subscription television platform will be subject to different captioning obligations depending on the platform;
- The ACMA will have the power to determine standards for captioning quality for subscription, commercial and national television broadcasters.
Previously, captioning requirements on subscription television were implemented under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (DDA), under which the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) granted an exemption from discrimination actions, provided the subscription television channel providers and platforms complied with an Order of the AHRC in relation to captioning levels. The new legislation will make compliance with captioning requirements a condition of a subscription television broadcasting or narrowcasting licence. Compliance with captioning obligations under the BSA will also exempt subscription television licensees from an action for discrimination under the DDA.
The Act implements the recommendations of the report of the Government’s Media Access Review, released in December 2010. In releasing the Report, the Government stated that it would move to implement the Report’s recommendations by introducing legislation that would:
Broadcasting Services Amendment (Improved Access to Television Services) Bill 2012
Senate Environment and Communications Committee Inquiry into the Bill
- provide regulatory certainty by consolidating captioning requirements into Broadcasting Services Act 1992;
- raise captioning targets to provide a better outcome for people with disability;
- introduce requirements for caption quality.
- ASTRA made a submission to this inquiry.
Media Access Review
– ASTRA submission to the Media Access Review