Call for comments on draft quality captioning standard | ACMA

Call for comments on draft quality captioning standard

ACMA Media Release 94- 5 December 2012

The Australian Communications and Media Authority is calling for comments on a draft captioning standard for people who are deaf or hearing impaired. The draft Standard sets minimum quality requirements for television captioning services.

'As the ACMA's goal in developing the draft standard is providing meaningful access, the focus is on the need for programs to be comprehensible to viewers using the captions. It is also seeking to balance the need for certainty and clarity, with the need for flexibility in certain circumstances,' said ACMA Chairman, Chris Chapman.

'Deaf and hearing impaired viewers also have the right to access quality captions that provide a visual translation of the soundtrack of a television program.'

The ACMA is responsible for developing the captioning quality standard and investigating complaints about captioning quality. It will also monitor compliance with captioning requirements through annual reporting.

The ACMA welcomes comments on the draft standard by Tuesday 22 January 2013. Information about making a submission, as well as the ACMA's captioning role and broadcasters' captioning obligations, is also available.

For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact: Emma Rossi, Media Manager, (02) 9334 7719, 0434 652 063 or


Captioning Standard
The ACMA is required to determine captioning standard(s) about the quality of captioning services provided by national and commercial television broadcasters and subscription television licensees. The captioning standards must be in place by 28 June 2013.

Captioning targets
The Broadcasting Services Act 1992 (BSA) also sets new captioning targets. The annual captioning targets for 2012-13 for free-to-air (FTA) commercial and national broadcasters require them to caption 90 per cent of programs transmitted between 6 am and midnight, increasing to 95 per cent in 2013-14 and reaching 100 per cent from 1 July 2014.

For subscription television broadcasters and narrowcasters, the targets range from 10 per cent to 60 per cent for 2012-13, increasing to between 15 per cent and 75 per cent from 1 July 2014 (with the exception of subscription television music services, for which the annual captioning target remains at five per cent). The specific target depends on the type of service provided-music services have the lowest captioning targets and movie services have the highest.

The basic rule
In addition to the captioning targets, there is a basic rule that FTA broadcasters must comply with. From 28 June 2012, a captioning service must be provided for all programs transmitted between 6 pm and 10.30 pm (the designated viewing hours) and all news and current affairs programs outside these designated hours.

From 1 July 2014, the designated viewing hours will be extended to between 6 am and 12 am, consistent with the viewing hours that correspond with the obligations relating to captioning targets. The requirement that all news and current affairs programs must be captioned, regardless of the time they are transmitted, will remain.

Broadcasters are currently required to provide a captioning service for programs transmitted on their SDTV or HDTV multi-channels in the licence (coverage) area if the broadcasters have previously transmitted the television programs with captions on their core television service in the licence (coverage) area.

Senator Conroy has recently announced the intention to commence consultations in 2013 regarding captioning obligations on multi channels following digital switchover.

Last updated: 10 May 2017