New TV Captioning Quality Standard | ACMA

New TV Captioning Quality Standard

ACMA media release 38/2013 – 5 June

Deaf and hearing impaired Australians should have improved access to meaningful television captions under the new Television Captioning Quality Standard.

The Standard sets rules about the quality of captions for television services requiring them to be readable, accurate and comprehensible.

‘The Australian Communications and Media Authority recognises the fundamental value of captioning in ensuring television services are accessible to all Australians.’ said ACMA Chairman, Chris Chapman.

‘Given the important role that captioning has in contributing to social equity, we have consulted with both caption users and industry to develop a standard that will provide television viewers with meaningful captions,’ he added.

The ACMA has also released a series of informational videos, with both captioning and Auslan (sign language) translation, to help ensure that caption users are aware of the captioning rules. The videos also explain how to report or complain about any associated television broadcast captioning issues.

The Television Captioning Standard and the captioning videos are available on the ACMA website.

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



Captioning requirements

The Broadcasting Services Amendment (Improved Access to Television Services) Act 2012 introduced new captioning rules from 1 July 2012. The key changes include:

  • new captioning targets for commercial and national television broadcasters
  • new captioning obligations and targets for subscription television
  • the requirement for a captioning quality standard
  • the requirement for broadcasters to transmit emergency warnings in the form of text and speech, and caption those warnings where practicable

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.

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.

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.

Broadcasters are 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.

Development of the Standard

In December 2012 the draft Television Captioning Quality Standard was released for comment, accompanied by a consultation paper. Twenty submissions were received in response to the draft standard. Each of these submissions was carefully considered and stakeholder feedback was incorporated into the final Standard.

The draft Standard was developed following consultation with caption users, advocacy groups, the television industry and captioning providers. The draft standard built on the captioning ‘meta-principles’, which the ACMA used 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.


Last updated: 03 March 2017