Statutory review of the television captioning obligations | ACMA

Statutory review of the television captioning obligations

Consultation closes: 22 July 2016

IFC: 14/2016

Online consultation

Submissions
This consultation is now closed. The ACMA received 24 submissions/comments to this consultation which can be accessed from the right hand side index box.

Statutory review
The ACMA has begun a statutory review of the television captioning requirements in the Broadcasting Services Act 1992.

We have released a consultation paper that sets out the rules, flags key areas for input and summarises previous feedback from stakeholders.

Download

Word      

Consultation paper:
Review of the captioning obligations in the Broadcasting Services Act 1992

1.8 MB

Find out more about the review on our Captioning statutory review page.

Call for feedback

If you’re a viewer who uses captions, a community or advocacy group, a broadcaster, a captioning service provider or just have an interest in captioning, we’d welcome your feedback about the operation of the captioning rules for television.

You can provide a submission or comment in response to any of the issues that are raised in our consultation paper. A summary of the issues is also provided below under ‘The captioning rules we want feedback on’.

The captioning rules we want feedback on

The table below provides a short summary of the rules about captioning on television that we are exploring in the review. The ACMA is seeking your feedback about any or all of these rules. More detailed information can be found in the consultation paper (please see ‘Downloads’ table above), including recent comments made by industry and caption users.

Broad consultation area

Summary of rules     

Material exempt from captioning

Programs do not need to be captioned if they are foreign language programs or programs with no identifiable human vocal content.

Captioning obligations for free-to-air television
(commercial television licensees and the national broadcasters—ABC and SBS)

Free-to-air television broadcasters are required to caption:

  • 100% of programs broadcast between 6 am and midnight on their main channels
  • all news and current affairs programs broadcast at any time on their main channels.

There is no obligation for programs on the multi-channels to be captioned, but programs that have previously been broadcast on a main channel with captions, must be captioned when broadcast on a multi-channel.

Captioning targets for subscription television
(pay TV)

Subscription television licensees are gradually moving towards a requirement to caption 100% of programs in a 24-hour period.
There are 9 different categories of subscription television services and each has a different annual captioning target. These targets increase by 5% each year until the target reaches 100%. For example:

  • For 2015–16, the annual target for category ‘A’ movie services is 80%. This target will reach 100% by 2019.
  • For 2015–16, the annual target for sports services is 20%. This target will reach 100% by 2031.

Captioning targets for sports services can be ‘averaged out’ across all sports services provided by the same channel provider to a licensee, as long as each service provides at least 2/3 of the required target.

Captions must be provided for simultaneously transmitted programs and programs that have previously been broadcast with captions.

Captioning is not required for new subscription services.

Exemptions and target reductions on the grounds of significant hardship 

Free-to-air television broadcasters and subscription television licensees may apply for exemptions from captioning or reductions to their captioning requirements on the grounds of significant hardship. There are rules relating to:

  • the application process
  • what the ACMA must have regard to when assessing applications
  • the definition of eligible periods
  • the consultation requirements.  

Captioning quality 

The framework for the Captioning Standard describes what should be considered when referring to the quality of captions. 

Emergency warnings 

Free-to-air television broadcasters and subscription television licensees are required to broadcast emergency warnings in text and speech. They are required to provide captions if it is reasonably practicable to do so. 

Reporting and record-keeping 

Free-to-air television broadcasters and subscription television licensees are required to submit annual reports to the ACMA at the end of the financial year, relating to compliance with captioning obligations, the Captioning Standard and emergency warning broadcasts.

They are also required to make written records to show compliance with captioning obligations and audio visual records to show compliance with the captioning standard and emergency warnings broadcasts.

Licence conditions and compliance framework 

Compliance with captioning targets is linked to compliance with the quality requirements of the Captioning Standard.

Compliance with Part 9D is a licence condition for commercial free-to-air broadcasters and subscription services.

Breaches attributable to unforeseen significant difficulties of a technical or engineering nature are disregarded.

Viewers currently complain directly to the ACMA about issues with captioning on free-to-air commercial or subscription television and complain to the broadcaster first for issues about captioning on SBS or the ABC.

Opportunity for general comment

Instead of responding to the specific issues that are raised in our consultation paper, you may wish to provide a general comment in response to the following question:
What do you think about the current rules for captioning on television?

Instructions

Instructions for how to provide feedback

There are several ways for you to provide feedback to the consultation paper. Submissions can be formal responses or simply a comment about any aspect of the captioning rules. The ACMA will consider all submissions and comments.

 

Using this online consultation

You have a choice to make a submission or, if you prefer, just leave a comment.

 

How do I make a submission?
Click on ‘How to submit’ in the index box at the top right of this page to access the link to our online submission form.

 

How do I make a general comment?
The index box at the top right of this page provides two options. Click on: 

  • ‘Feedback on this consultation’ and select one of the headings, then ‘Add comment’.
  • ‘Respond to questions’ and select ‘Provide answer’.

Email

You can send a submission or comment to: captioningreview@acma.gov.au 

 

Mail/post

You can send a submission or comment to: The Manager, Content Projects and Policy Section, PO Box Q500, Queen Victoria Building, Sydney NSW 1230. 
 

When will submissions and comments be published?

In general, the ACMA publishes all submissions and comments it receives. The ACMA prefers to receive submissions and comments that are not claimed to be confidential. However, the ACMA accepts that a submitter may sometimes wish to provide information in confidence. In these circumstances, submitters are asked to identify the material over which confidentiality is claimed and provide a written explanation for the claim. The ACMA will consider each confidentiality claim on a case-by-case basis. Read more about our publication of submissions and privacy.

 

For this consultation, online comments will be published within 24–48 hours of receipt. Uploaded/emailed/posted submissions will be made publicly available at the conclusion of the consultation.

 

Questions and enquiries about the review

You can email general enquiries to captioningreview@acma.gov.au.

 

Need more information?

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