Captioning quality standards | ACMA

Captioning quality standards

Captioning quality standard

The Television Captioning Quality Standard (the Standard) aims to ensure that captions are meaningful to deaf and hearing impaired viewers.

The Standard requires captions to be readable, accurate and comprehensible, so that they are meaningful to viewers. When considering the quality of captions for a program, the particular circumstances of the program and the nature of the program are both relevant. For example, it is reasonable to expect that the captions for a live broadcast of a fast paced sporting program may lag behind the commentary, but they must still be meaningful to viewers. The readability, accuracy and comprehensibility of the captions are also assessed in the context of the program as a whole.

All commercial television broadcasters, subscription television broadcasters and narrowcasters and national broadcasters must comply with the Standard.

For more information about the Standard, you can refer to our informational videoWhat is the captioning quality standard? which includes Auslan translation and captioning. You can also download our captioning complaints brochure.

Historical development of the captioning quality standard

The Television Captioning Quality Standard was developed following extensive consultation with caption users, advocacy groups, the television industry and captioning providers. In December 2012, a draft Standard was released for comment, with 20 submissions received in response. The TV Captioning Quality Standard came into effect on 6 June 2013 and aims to ensure that captions are meaningful to deaf and hearing impaired viewers.

Prior to the development of the Television Captioning Quality Standard, the ACMA considered a set of meta-principles when assessing captioning quality in its investigation of complaints. The meta-principles are a concise version of draft quality indicators developed in consultation with the Co-regulatory Captioning Committee.

The Co-regulatory Captioning Committee (CCC) was established in 2010 to develop indicators for assessing the quality of captioning. CCC members included broadcasters, deaf and hearing impaired groups, relevant government departments and captioning service providers.

Review of the captioning quality standard

On 3 March 2016 the ACMA completed its review of the captioning quality standard. The ACMA was required to review the captioning quality standard to consider the differences (including time constraints for live content) between providing captioning services for:

  • live television programs and pre-recorded television programs;
  • wholly live or wholly pre-recorded television programs; and
  • 'part-live' television programs (programs that include both live and pre-recorded program material).

The ACMA was not authorised to determine that a lower quality of captioning service is acceptable for one kind of program or program material.  After extensive consultation and consideration of international approaches, the ACMA decided to maintain the captioning quality standard’s approach to assessing the quality of captions.

The ACMA made a minor variation to the captioning quality standard to reflect its decision. Please refer to the variation instrument and accompanying explanatory statement for further information.

Full details of the ACMA’s review and public consultation process can be found in the final report and media release. 

Investigation of complaints

 The ACMA may investigate complaints about television broadcasters’ compliance with the captioning quality standard.

Disregarded Breaches - unforeseen technical difficulties

If a broadcaster has breached the captioning quality standard because of significant and unforeseen technical or engineering difficulties, the breach may be disregarded as provided by the captioning legislation. View further information at the 'Disregarded breaches’ page.


Last updated: 16 July 2018