2016-17 annual captioning compliance results free to air | ACMA

2016-17 annual captioning compliance results free to air

Reporting on 2016–17 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 commercial television broadcasting licensees and national broadcasters (free-to-air television 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 on its website.

The ACMA has received annual captioning compliance reports for the 2016–17 financial year relating to 95 free-to-air television services, including 75 commercial licensed services and a total of 20 coverage areas between the ABC and SBS.   

2016–17 compliance summary

The 2016–17 compliance period marked the third 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 language programs (that is, programs that are wholly in a language other than English) and music programs (that is, programs that consist only of music and has no human vocal content recognised as being in the English language).

Free-to-air television 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 2016–17 (6 am to midnight). Based on their annual captioning reports:

  • 92 free-to-air television services each achieved between 99.89 per cent and 99.99 per cent captioning on their primary channels in 2016–17. The captioning shortfalls were approximately 2 hours per service per year, across the 6,570 hours broadcast between 6 am and midnight in 2016–17.
  • The remaining three free-to-air television services provided by Imparja Television Pty Ltd (Imparja) exceeded their reduced annual captioning target of 90 per cent each for 2016–17. These three services had target reduction orders on the grounds of unjustifiable hardship.
  • On average, approximately 99.65 per cent of all non-exempt programming broadcast on each free-to-air primary channels was captioned during 2016–17 (6 am to midnight).
  • In total, 595,022 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 2016–17.

View the levels of captioning provided on free-to-air television services in 2016–17 (Excel, 291KB), in order of television network name.

Breaches reported by free-to-air television broadcasters

Subsections 130ZUB(1) and 130ZUB(2) of the BSA have the effect that if:

(a) a free-to-air television broadcaster has breached subsection 130ZR(1); and

(b) the breach is attributable to significant difficulties of a technical or engineering nature for the broadcaster; and

(c) those difficulties could not reasonably have been foreseen by the broadcaster,

then the breach is to be disregarded in determining whether the free-to-air television broadcaster has complied with subsection 130ZR(1) of the BSA.

Based on the self-reported information provided by free-to-air television broadcasters, the majority of the captioning outages in 2016–17 (6 am to midnight) were the result of significant difficulties of a technical or engineering nature that could not reasonably have been foreseen by the free-to-air television broadcasters. Such difficulties included unanticipated equipment failure and failure of network connectivity between broadcasters and caption service providers. Of the 92 free-to-air television services that did not meet the captioning target for 2016–17:

  • The captioning shortfalls for seven free-to-air television broadcasters were reported to be solely caused by unforeseen significant technical difficulties. These breaches of subsection 130ZR(1) of the BSA were disregarded under section 130ZUB of the BSA. Consequently, the seven free-to-air television services complied with the captioning target requirements for 2016–17. This means that, including the three Imparja services that met their reduced captioning target, a total of 10 free-to-air television services complied with the captioning target requirements in 2016–17. 
  • The captioning shortfalls of the remaining 85 free-to-air television services were largely caused by unforeseen technical difficulties, with some minor captioning outages that resulted from human error. To the extent that some of the captioning shortfalls were attributable to human error and not all solely attributable to unforeseen technical difficulties (and therefore cannot all be disregarded), the 85 free-to-air television services breached the captioning target requirements for 2016–17.

Breaches and steps taken to address breaches

All relevant free-to-air television broadcasters that reported breaches of the captioning requirements advised 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, considering the above steps, the ACMA has decided that no enforcement action is warranted regarding these breaches. 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.

Last updated: 13 June 2018