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Complain about captioning on TV

TV broadcasters have to meet certain standards to provide captions for viewers who are deaf or have a hearing impairment. You can complain if a broadcaster does not show captions or about the captioning quality.

The Broadcasting Services Act 1992 tells broadcasters what they have to do. The Act applies to: 

  • commercial TV 
  • national TV services (the ABC and SBS)
  • subscription TV

Captions must be:

  • easy to read 
  • accurate
  • easy to understand

Common captioning issues you can fix

Captions and lines of text may not appear as they should if you have a problem with your:

  • TV reception 
  • internet connection

Before you contact us, please check your connections. Diagnose and fix your TV reception to see if this helps.

Our video, turning on captions and troubleshooting, may also help

Before you complain

You will need to give enough information to identify the program being complained about:

  • the date of broadcast
  • the name of the television program
  • the television channel on which you saw the program

You will also need to provide your contact details and explain the problem with the captioning.

Complain about captioning on commercial and subscription television

You can complain about the quality of captions or lack of captions on commercial or subscription TV. They must meet the quality in the Broadcasting Services (Television Captioning) Standard 2013

You may want to contact the broadcaster first if you think the captioning problem is a technical one that could be fixed by the broadcaster. For example, if the captions are dropping in and out.

You can complain directly to us by completing the broadcasting complaint form.

Information about making a complaint about captioning on commercial or subscription television is also available in this video - How do I make a complaint about captioning on commercial television or pay TV? which includes Auslan translation and captioning.

Complain about captioning on ABC or SBS

If you have a captioning complaint about a program broadcast by the ABC or SBS, you must write directly to the relevant broadcaster within 6 weeks of the broadcast.

If your complaint is about a program broadcast on ABC, you can write to ABC Audience and Consumer Affairs, GPO Box 9994, in the capital city of your state or territory, or make your complaint through the ABC website.

If your complaint is about a program broadcast on SBS, you must put your complaint in writing and send it to Locked Bag 028, Crows Nest NSW 1585, or email comments@sbs.com.au. Further information about captioning complaints about an SBS program or service is available at the SBS website.

For either SBS or ABC, if you don't receive a response within 30 days, or you're not satisfied with the response, you can refer your complaint to us by completing the broadcasting complaint form.

Information about making a complaint about captioning on ABC or SBS is also available through our informational video - How do I make a complaint about captioning on SBS or ABC?, which includes Auslan translation and captioning.

When you cannot complain

Some services are exempt from the Act and do not have to show captions. You cannot complain about caption quality or missing captions on: 

  • community TV
  • advertisements 
  • programs that are not in English
  • programs that consist only of music
  • catch-up TV programs
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