The ACMA

Television

TV content regulation

Captioning

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What is captioning?

Captioning is the presentation of the audio component of audio-visual content as text on screen: this includes sound effects as well as the spoken word. It is generally intended to assist viewers with a hearing impairment. Closed captioning is available on most televisions by clicking on the ‘cc’ button on the remote control or through the digital set-top box. It is referred to as ‘closed’ captioning as it is not openly broadcast.

In Australia, captioning differs from ‘subtitling’, which is the translation into another language of televised audio content, presented as text on screen.

Captioning rules

The Broadcasting Services Amendment (Improved Access to Television Services) Act 2012 introduced new captioning rules from 1 July 2012. The key changes include:

Information about the key captioning requirements and how to make a complaint about captioning is also available in video form, with Auslan translation and captioning:

Annual captioning compliance results

Exemption orders and Target reduction orders

The ACMA has the power to make an exemption order or a target reduction order for a specified commercial, national or subscription television service if the ACMA is satisfied that refusing to do so would cause unjustifiable hardship to the broadcaster or licensee. Click on the link below for information on:

Applications for exemption orders and target reduction orders may be lodged with the ACMA:

  • in the financial year preceding the start year of the eligible period applied for; or
  • between 1 July and 27 December in the start year of the eligible period applied for.

Before an order is made, a draft of the order will be published for public consultation. Please go to the Draft orders page to read about applications for exemption orders or target reduction orders. The submission period for comments on these applications is now open. Please go to the Exemption orders and Target reduction orders page to view the orders made by the ACMA.

Complaints about captioning

The process for making a captioning complaint differs, depending on whether the program was broadcast on commercial television (such as Channel 7, 9 or 10), subscription television (such as Foxtel) or by a national broadcaster (ABC and SBS).

Information about how to make a complaint about captioning on commercial or subscription television is available on our ‘Complaints about captioning’ page, or you can watch our informational video - How do I make a complaint about captioning on commercial television or pay TV? which includes Auslan translation and captioning.

Information about how to make a complaint about captioning on ABC or SBS is available on our ‘Complaints about captioning’ page, or you can watch our informational video - How do I make a complaint about captioning on SBS or ABC?, which includes Auslan translation and captioning. (please note that the waiting response time is now 30 days and not 60 days as referred to within this video)

Last updated: 11 June 2014

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