2013/14 annual captioning compliance results: free-to-air television | ACMA

2013/14 annual captioning compliance results: free-to-air television

Reporting on 2013/14 annual compliance (captioning) under section 130ZZC of the Broadcasting Services Act 1992—free-to-air television broadcasters

As part of the television captioning obligations under Part 9D of the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 (BSA), all national and commercial television (free-to-air) broadcasters are required to submit an annual report to the ACMA on their compliance for each financial year. Under subsection 130ZZC(7) of the BSA, the ACMA is required to publish these annual compliance reports, which are available here .

2013/14 Compliance summary

In 2013/14, free-to-air television services were required to provide captioning for at least an average of 95 per cent of the total duration of non-exempt programs broadcast on their main channels over the year, between the hours of 6 am and midnight each day. Exempt programs include foreign programs (wholly not in English) and music programs that do not contain human vocal content.

In 2013/14 broadcasters reported the following:

  • All 51 commercial television broadcasting licensees (75 licensed services in total) and the SBS reported that they had exceeded their annual captioning target for 2013/14.
  • The ABC failed to meet the target by approximately one per cent (or 60 hours) in all of its eight coverage areas. This was because the music program Rage was not captioned until June 2014, when the ABC provided captions for the program from 10.30 am to 11.30 am. Since 1 July 2014, the ABC has expanded the captioning for this program to the period between 6 am and midnight.

Captioned programs made up approximately 97 per cent of the total hours of all non-exempt programming (592,259 hours) broadcast on the main channels during 2013/14 from 6 am to midnight. This figure is up from 93 per cent in 2012/13 (when the annual captioning target was 90 per cent).

A total of 573,352 hours of television programs were broadcast with captioning on the main channels of free-to-air television services between 6 am and midnight in 2013/14. This is an increase of 26,712 hours compared to the same period in 2012/13. 

All free-to-air television services complied with the requirement to transmit emergency warnings in the form of text, speech and if reasonably practicable to do so, with captioning.  

Nine commercial television broadcasting licensees (involving 20 licensed services) reported full compliance with all captioning obligations.

Incidents resulting in captioning breaches and 'disregarded breaches' (or unforeseen technical difficulties)

Both national broadcasters (involving all 20 coverage areas) and 42 commercial television broadcasting licensees (involving 55 licensed services) reported instances of non-compliance with the basic captioning rule and/or captioning requirements for repeat programs on multi-channels which had previously been broadcast with captioning by the broadcaster concerned in the same licence (coverage) area. Based on the information provided by broadcasters, some of these instances were caused by unforeseen technical difficulties and the rest by other reasons.

The instances of non-compliance resulting from unforeseen technical difficulties were disregarded under section 130ZUB of the BSA (disregarded breaches). The unforeseen technical difficulties included: 

  • unanticipated equipment failure, the technical failure of suppliers and software failure; and
  • technical issues resulting from bad weather, power outages and connectivity problems.

The broadcasters reported that steps were subsequently taken towards addressing those unforeseen technical issues, including repairing or replacing faulty equipment and improving monitoring processes and procedures.

Other instances of non-compliance in 2013/14 resulted in captioning breaches for both national broadcasters (involving all 20 coverage areas) and the 36 commercial licensees concerned (involving 48 licensed services).

The causes of these breaches included human errors and procedural issues. Steps taken by broadcasters to prevent similar breaches included staff training and improved processes and procedures.

Summary of breaches and disregarded breaches

In 2013/14, both national broadcasters reported non-compliance with more than one captioning obligation. Of the 42 commercial television broadcasting licensees (involving 55 licensed services) that reported instances of non-compliance:

  • six licensees (involving seven services) only had disregarded breaches (unforeseen technical difficulties);
  • seven licensees (involving 13 services) breached one captioning obligation; and
  • 29 licensees (involving 35 services) breached two or more captioning obligations.

The table below presents an overview of the breaches and disregarded breaches of captioning obligations by free-to-air broadcasters in 2013/14.

For the purpose of this table, the television broadcasting service provided by each national broadcaster for each of their coverage areas is regarded as a separate service. Therefore, the total number of services is 95, consisting of 75 commercial licensed services, eight ABC services (for eight coverage areas) and 12 SBS services (for 12 coverage areas).

Captioning obligations
2013–14*

(Free-to-air broadcasting services = 95 services)

Breaches

Disregarded breaches (unforeseen technical difficulties)

Annual captioning target

95% captioning 6 am to midnight across 2013–14, primary channels

8 national services

0 service



Basic rule – designated viewing hours s130ZR(1)(a)

Caption programs during designated viewing hours (6 pm – 10.30 pm daily), primary channels

(Designated viewing hours for each FTA service in 2013–14 totalled 1642.5 hours (4.5 hours x 365 days) )

20 national services and 42 commercial licensed services

 

Average total duration of breaches per non-compliant service was approximately half an hour (0.03% of the designated viewing hours in the year)

20 national services and 21 commercial licensed services

 

Average total duration of disregarded breaches per non-compliant service was approximately two hours (0.1% of the designated viewing hours in the year)

Basic rule – news/current affairs s130ZR(1)(b)

Caption news or current affairs outside designated viewing hours (i.e. between 10.30pm and 6pm each day), primary channels

20 national services and 39 commercial licensed services

 

Average total duration of breaches per non-compliant service was approximately 35 minutes in the year

20 national services and 32 commercial licensed services

 

Average total duration of disregarded breaches per non-compliant service was approximately three hours in the year

Multi-channel captioning rule

Caption repeat programs on multi-channels  if those programs have previously been broadcast with captioning on the broadcaster’s primary channel in the license/coverage area

15 commercial licensed services

 

Average total duration of breaches per non-compliant service was approximately 41 minutes in the year

12 national services and 2 commercial licensed services

 

Average total duration of disregarded breaches per non-compliant service was approximately 27 hours in the year

* Captioning obligations do not apply to exempt programs, which include foreign programs (not wholly in English) and music programs that do not contain any human vocal content.

View a summary of the breaches (not including disregarded breaches) and the actions taken by the broadcasters towards preventing similar problems recurring.

 Please click here to view the annual compliance reports from free-to-air broadcasters.

Last updated: 19 August 2017