A lack of captioning on Ten’s catch-up TV service for MasterChef: The Professionals, which prominently features a hearing impaired contestant, has been described as “perplexing” by a campaigner.
Bonny Porter, 23, has probably cooked for many adland execs as she works in Sydney’s fashionable Rockpool Bar and Grill, with producers highlighting her hearing impairment in the first five minutes of the first episode of the series.
But campaigner Michael Lockrey says he has learned she currently works while theshow is aired, and “is reliant on the online transmission, but is unable to enjoy the program like her hearing peers.”
He told B&T: “While Bonny and her hearing loss have been portrayed in a very positive manner on the show, it is ironic that she and other people with deafness are being discriminated against in this manner.”
He said all the main free commercial broadcasters are slipping behind the ABC and SBS, which already provide captioning on their catch-up services, saying an “accessibility gap” has opened up in the industry.
Last year B&T revealed how many advertisers were alienating the hearing impaired community, up to 20% of the population, by failing to caption adverts.
Lockrey added many overseas broadcasters had already added captioning to their online offerings, and cited breakthroughs in technology used by providers like Netflix which make captioning more affordable and easier.
A spokesperson for Ten said free-to-air broadcasters are already working to comply with stringent new captioning regulations brought in last year, requiring all programs between 6am and midnight to be captioned.
She added: “Network Ten is committed to expanding and improving the captioning service for its broadcast programming and is working with its caption service provider, the Australian Communications and Media Authority and other key stakeholders to meet the new requirements and cater for deaf and hearing-impaired viewers.
“We will continue to explore opportunities to facilitate greater access to our content, including online accessibility.”