The Australian Communications and Media Authority has completed its review of the TV Captioning Quality Standard (the Standard) and published its final report.
Since 2013 free-to-air television broadcasters and subscription television licensees have been required to comply with the Standard, which sets out quality requirements relating to the readability, accuracy and comprehensibility of captions.
The review required the ACMA to consider the differences between live, ‘part-live’ (programs including live and pre-recorded material) and pre-recorded programs, and how these affect the quality of television captions.
After extensive consultation and consideration of international approaches, the ACMA has decided to maintain the current Standard’s approach to assessing the quality of captions.
The Standard currently considers the quality of captions in the context of a program as a whole, including the circumstances of the broadcast and the nature of the program being broadcast.
The ACMA has made a minor variation to the Standard to reflect its decision, full details below. The variation instrument and accompanying explanatory statement are available on the ACMA’s website.
For more information see Backgrounder below or contact: Emma Rossi, Media Manager, (02) 9334 7719, 0434 652 063 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Media release 14/2016 - 3 March
Changes to the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 (BSA) made in 2015 required the ACMA to review the Standard by19 March 2016 and also set the parameters for the review.
The ACMA was required to consider the differences (including time constraints for live content) between providing captioning services for live, pre-recorded and ‘part-live’ television programs.
The ACMA was not authorised to determine that a lower quality of captioning service is acceptable for one kind of program or program material. This meant that the Standard could not state that the quality requirements (readability, accuracy and comprehensibility) for captioning were lower for live programs, ‘part-live’ programs or pre-recorded programs.
Consultation included hosting a Citizen Conversation Forum event titled Live captioning – let’s talk in September 2015, engaging with key stakeholders over September and October 2015 and issuing a Discussion Paper for public comment in November 2015.
The ACMA also considered international approaches to the quality of captioning, including metrics methods, and reviewed consultation processes currently being undertaken in the UK, US and Canada.
The ACMA has made a minor variation to the Standard which now includes the following note under paragraph 6 of the Standard:
Note: Whilst noting that it is not authorised to determine that a lower quality of captioning service is acceptable for a kind of program or program material (see subsection 130ZZA(2B) of the Act), in determining this Standard, the ACMA has considered the differences (including time constraints for live content) between providing captioning services for live and pre-recorded television programs; and wholly live or wholly pre-recorded television programs and television programs that include both live and pre-recorded program material (see subsection 130ZZA(2A) of the Act).
The ACMA will also be conducting a statutory review of Part 9D of the BSA, which deals with captioning obligations, by 31 December 2016. Comments received in response to the current review of the Standard may be considered as part of the broader review.