Reporting on 2014–15 annual compliance (captioning) under section 130ZZC of the Broadcasting Services Act 1992—free-to-air television broadcasters
As part of the television captioning obligations under Part 9D of the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 (BSA), all national and commercial television (free-to-air) broadcasters are required to give an annual report to the ACMA on their compliance for each financial year. Under subsection 130ZZC(7) of the BSA, the ACMA is required to publish these annual compliance reports.
The ACMA received annual captioning compliance reports for the 2014–15 financial year from 95 free-to-air television services, including 51 commercial television broadcasters (75 commercial licensed services in total) and both national broadcasters (the ABC and SBS in 20 coverage areas in total).
2014-15 Compliance summary
2014–15 marked the first year of the requirement to caption all non-exempt television programs broadcast on free-to-air primary channels between the hours of 6 am and midnight daily (100 per cent captioning target). Exempt programs include foreign programs that are not in English and music programs that do not contain human vocal content.
Free-to-air broadcasters reported a high level of compliance with the 100 per cent captioning target for each day. Nearly 100 per cent captioning was achieved on their primary channels during 2014–15 (6 am to midnight).
Based on their annual captioning reports:
- Ninety-two free-to-air television services each achieved between 99.75 per cent and 99.99 per cent captioning on their primary channels in 2014–15. The captioning shortfalls were approximately four hours per service, across the 6,570 hours between 6 am and midnight each day in 2014–15.
- The remaining three services exceeded their reduced annual captioning target of 90 per cent each for 2014–15. These three services had target reduction orders in place for the year, on the grounds of unjustifiable hardship.
On average 99.63 per cent of all non-exempt programming broadcast on each free-to-air primary channel was captioned during 2014–15 (6 am to midnight). This figure is up from 97 per cent in 2013–14 (when the captioning target was 95 per cent); and up from 93 per cent in 2012–13 (when the target was 90 per cent).
In total 588,853 hours of television programs were broadcast with captioning on the primary channels of free-to-air television services between the hours of 6 am and midnight in 2014–15. This is an increase of 15,501 hours compared to the same period in 2013–14; and an increase of 42,213 hours compared to the same period in 2012–13.
Breaches, disregarded breaches and causes
Based on the information provided by broadcasters, the majority of the captioning outages in 2014–15 (6 am to midnight) resulted from significant, unforeseen technical or engineering difficulties (unforeseen technical difficulties), including unanticipated equipment failure, power outages and failure of network connectivity between broadcasters and captioning service providers.
View the levels of captioning provided on free-to-air services in 2014-15 (in order of network name).
Of the 92 services that did not meet the captioning target for 2014–15:
- The captioning shortfalls of 21 services were solely caused by unforeseen technical difficulties. Consequently, these breaches were disregarded under section 130ZUB of the BSA and the 21 services complied with the captioning target requirements for 2014–15. This means that, including the three services that met their reduced captioning target, a total of 24 free-to-air services complied with the captioning target requirements in 2014–15.
The captioning shortfalls of the remaining 71 services were largely caused by unforeseen technical difficulties, with some minor captioning outages that resulted from human or procedural errors. As the captioning shortfalls were not solely attributable to unforeseen technical difficulties (and therefore cannot be disregarded), the 71 services breached the captioning target requirements for 2014–15.
Steps taken by broadcasters to address breaches
All relevant broadcasters reported that steps had subsequently been taken towards addressing the breaches or unforeseen technical or engineering issues, including:
- repairing or replacing faulty equipment
- staff training
- improved processes and procedures.
Therefore, the ACMA did not take any enforcement action in relation to these matters. This is consistent with the ACMA’s compliance and enforcement approach—a graduated and strategic risk-based approach that generally uses the minimum power or intervention necessary to achieve the desired result.
View the annual compliance reports from free-to-air broadcasters.