Captioning obligations: Subscription TV | ACMA

Captioning obligations: Subscription TV

Captioning requirements

For information about captioning requirements for subscription broadcasters and narrowcasters, you can watch our informational video – What are the rules about how much television needs to be captioned?, which includes Auslan translation and captioning, or read the information provided below. National and commercial television broadcasters' annual captioning compliance reports and compliance summaries are published here.

Annual captioning targets

From 1 July 2012, subscription television services must meet annual captioning targets for each financial year. There are different annual captioning targets for different categories of subscription television services. The annual captioning target for each service category increases each year until it reaches 100 per cent.

Summary table – Annual captioning targets for subscription television (broadcasters and narrowcasters)

Percentage of total duration of programs transmitted on the service during the financial year that must be captioned

Item

Service category

F/Y*
1 Jul 2012

F/Y
1 Jul 2013

F/Y
1 Jul 2014

F/Y
1 Jul 2015

F/Y
1 Jul 2016

F/Y
1 Jul 2017

F/Y
1 Jul 2018

F/Y
1 Jul 2019

F/Y
1 Jul 2020

Annual target will increase by 5 per cent each year until it reaches 100 per cent
(If not a multiple of 5 per cent, round up to nearest multiple of 5 per cent)

1

Category A subscription television movie service (default for movie services)

60%

70%

75%

80%

85%

90%

95%

100%

100%

2

Category B subscription television movie service (for the 7th movie channel if nominated by licensee)

40%

50%

55%

60%

65%

70%

75%

80%

85%

3

Category C subscription television movie service (for the 8th or more movie channels if nominated by licensee)

30%

40%

45%

50%

55%

60%

65%

70%

75%

4

Category A subscription television general entertainment service (default for general entertaining services)

40%

50%

55%

60%

65%

70%

75%

80%

85%

5

Category B subscription television general entertainment service (for the 19th to 34th channels if nominated by licensee)

30%

40%

45%

50%

55%

60%

65%

70%

75%

6

Category C subscription television general entertainment service (for the 35th or more channels if nominated by licensee)

15%

20%

25%

30%

35%

40%

45%

50%

55%

7

Subscription television news service

10%

12.50%

15%

20%

25%

30%

35%

40%

45%

8

**Subscription television sports service

10%

12.50%

15%

20%

25%

30%

35%

40%

45%

9

Subscription television music service

5%

5%

5%

10%

15%

20%

25%

30%

35%

* F/Y = the Financial year the figures start on

** A subscription television licensee may aggregate the annual captioning targets of sports services that are supplied by the same channel provider. However, the licensee is still required to meet a captioning target of at least two thirds of the existing captioning target on each individual channel.  See heading ‘Subscription Television Sports Channels’ for further information. 

Repeat television programs

If a subscription television licensee transmits a television program on a subscription television service and that program has been previously transmitted with captions on the same or another subscription television service provided by the licensee, the licensee must provide a captioning service for that repeat television program.  This requirement only applies to programs supplied by the same channel provider or part-channel provider.   

Aggregation of Sports channels’ captioning targets

From the 2014–15 financial year, a subscription television licensee may aggregate the annual captioning targets for sports channels supplied by the same channel provider.  Each individual sports channel must still maintain a certain level of captioning, which is at least two-thirds of the annual captioning target.

For example: For FY2014 –15, the captioning target for a sports channel is 15%. If a subscription television licensee broadcasts two sports channels provided by the same channel provider:

  • the amount of captioned content must average at least 15% across both channels;
  • each of the two channels must caption at least 10% (two-thirds of 15%); and
  • one channel could be as high as 20% with the second channel at 10%.  

Exclusion of new subscription television channels from captioning targets 

New subscription television services are exempt from the annual captioning targets for one to almost two years depending on when the services commence.   

To qualify for the exemption, the subscription television service must predominantly consist of programs not previously transmitted in Australia before the service commenced.  

The exemption from captioning obligations applies from service commencement until the financial year beginning on the first 1 July that is at least one year after the service commenced.

Example 1: If a new subscription television service commenced on 1 July 2015, the service will be exempt from the annual captioning target from 1 July 2015 to 30 June 2016. 

Example 2: If a new subscription television service commenced on 1 September 2015, the service will be exempt from the annual captioning targets from 1 September 2015 to 30 June 2017.

Simultaneously transmitted television programs

If a subscription television licensee transmits a television program on a subscription television service (the first service) and the program is simultaneously transmitted on another subscription television service provided by the licensee (the second service), and the licensee provides a captioning service for the transmission of the program on the first service, the licensee must provide a captioning service for the television program transmitted on the second service.

Emergency warnings

If a subscription television licensee transmits an emergency warning at the request of an emergency service agency on a subscription television service, the licensee must transmit the whole emergency warning in text and speech, and caption the warning where practical.

Industry codes of practice

Under section 123 of the Broadcasting Services Act 1992, industry groups have developed codes of practice in consultation with the ACMA. Once implemented, the ACMA monitors these codes and deals with unresolved complaints made under them. Captioning is covered by the following codes of practice:

Annual reporting and record keeping requirements

National and commercial television broadcasters must give annual compliance reports to the ACMA within 90 days after the end of a financial year. The reports must be in a form approved by the  ACMA. Please refer to the guidance notes to complete this report. 

The licensees are also required to make compliance records in a form approved by the ACMA.

The licensees must:  

  • keep written records for at least 90 days after they give their annual compliance reports to the ACMA (that is, up to 180 days after the end of the relevant financial year)
  • keep audio visual records for 30 days following the relevant broadcast. If a licensee becomes aware of a complaint about its compliance with captioning obligations under the BSA, the licensee must keep the audio visual records for 90 days from broadcast. 

Exemption orders and target reduction orders

The ACMA has the power to make an exemption order or a target reduction order for a subscription television licensee if it is satisfied that refusing to do so would cause unjustifiable hardship to the licensee. An exemption order exempts a specified subscription television service provided by the licensee from its annual captioning targets for a specified period (one to five financial years). A target reduction order specifies a new reduced annual captioning target for the specified service provided by the licensee for a specified period.

To apply for an exemption order, the Exemption order application form for subscription television licensees must be submitted to the ACMA. Guidance notes are available to assist in completing this form.

To apply for a target reduction order, the Target Reduction order application form for subscription television licensees must be submitted to the ACMA. Guidance notes are available to assist in completing this form.

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