Quality of TV captions to rise

Quality of TV captions to rise

Watching television should become easier from today for deaf and hearing impaired persons as the media watchdog’s Television Captioning Quality Standard comes into effect.

The standard comes into effect on June 5 2013, as the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) moves to ensure captions are “meaningful” to viewers.

To be meaningful captions must be readable, accurate and comprehensible.

“When considering the quality of captions, the particular circumstances of the program are relevant,” the ACMA said.

“For example, it is reasonable to expect that the captions for a live broadcast of a fast paced sporting program may lag behind the commentary, but they must still be meaningful to viewers.”

Last year, a B&T investigation revealed that one in six people in Australia have a hearing problem but major advertisers do not caption their TV ads.

Those advertisers included big-name brands such as Woolworths, Coles and Westfield.

ACMA chairman Chris Chapman said captioning has a “fundamental value” ensuring TV is accessible to all Australians.

“Given the important role that captioning has in contributing to social equity, we have consulted with both caption users and industry to develop a standard that will provide television viewers with meaningful captions,” Chapman said.

All broadcasters – commercial, national, subscription and narrowcasters – must comply with the new standard.

The number of programs with captions is also set to increase under new captioning rules introduced in July last year.

Nine out of 10 programs national and commercial broadcasters air between 6am and midnight should now be captioned with that figure to rise to 95% in 2013-14. By July 1 next year all programs during that time period should feature captions.

The target subscription and narrowcasters are expected to hit is increasing to between 15% and 75% from July 1 2014.

Ten attracted criticism earlier this year for failing to caption the online catch-up TV service for its MasterChef: The Professionals which featured a hearing impaired contestant. More on this story here.

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