ACMA, Australian Communications and Media Authority

ACMA makes no finding regarding Foxtel captioning complaint

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The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has made no finding in relation to a complaint made by a member of the public that an episode of Grand Designs Australia shown on Foxtel in June 2013 was only partially captioned.

Foxtel supplied the ACMA with a copy of the master recording of the program which showed that it was prepared with captions for broadcast, but did not have an “as transmitted” recording (which would have shown what the viewers saw). It had checked its records and there were no errors logged on the night of transmission, while no-one else complained about the lack of captions. Foxtel admitted that the lack of captions could have been caused by a technical fault that had remedied itself, but it was impossible to check this.


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Lack of records hampers captioning complaint decision

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The broadcasting regulator, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) was unable to make a judgement on a complaint about delayed captions on Da Vinci’s Demons on FX+2 due to a lack of records.

The complaint alleged that the captions were displaying considerably behind the dialogue on the +2 hours version of the program broadcast on 4 May 2013 on Foxtel. The investigation by the ACMA showed that although Foxtel was able to demonstrate that the original broadcast of the program two hours earlier was error-free and that it had no internal log of any problems on the plus 2 hours version, it did not have a copy of the program as transmitted and therefore could not show that there was no error.


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When are bad captions permitted on television?

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When a viewer complains about inadequate TV captioning Australia’s media regulator steps in to determine if the breach is excusable. We look at the regulations to see what the TV networks can get away with.

Caption quality is one of the most talked about issues among caption users. There have been advances in dealing with quality in recent years, including the incorporation of quality standards into Australian regulations with the passing of the new captioning rules and regulations in 2012.


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ACMA rules on captioning breaches by Nine and Seven

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The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has completed two investigations following complaints about captioning on programs broadcast by the Nine and Seven networks. In both cases, it found that the networks were in breach of captioning obligations, but has disregarded the breaches because they were caused by technical difficulties that could not reasonably have been foreseen.

The complaint against the Nine network related to an episode of The Big Bang Theory broadcast on TCN and GTV on 9 January 2013 in which the captions were intermittent. In submissions to the ACMA, Nine stated that the program had originally been captioned to tape in 2009, and there was a compatibility problem with these captions and the file-based system now used at its National Playout Centre.


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