Amendments to the Broadcasting Services Act passed last year introduced captioning requirements for subscription TV services.
Fetch TV has requested exemptions for the following 21 channels:
- Baby TV
- Fashion TV
- Fox Sports News
- Australian Christian Channel
- Ovation Channel
- Travel Channel
- Al Jazeera
- CCTV News
- DW TV
- France 24
- Setanta Sports
- BBC World News
- Manchester City TV
- Chelsea TV
- Real Madrid TV
Eight of these channels - Fox Sports News, Australian Christian Channel - Al Jazeera, Bloomberg, CCTV, ESPN2, CNBC and BBC World News) are currently available on FOXTEL without captions.
The target reduction application is for Nat Geo Adventure, which is screened on FOXTEL, with captions.
In its exemption and target reduction applications, Fetch TV has noted that it has no captioning infrastructure in place. It argues that being required to provide captions on the above services would impose unjustifiable financial hardship, and if the applications were not granted, the services would cease to be provided.
The ACMA has accepted that imposing the captioning requirements on Fetch TV would impose unjustifiable hardship, and made preliminary decisions to make the exemption and target reduction orders for the period 1 July 2012 to 30 June 2014. Before the orders are made final, the ACMA is required to invite submissions from stakeholders, The closing date for submissions is 20 February 2013.
“Fetch TV made no provision for captioning when it set up its service,” said Chris Mikul, Project Manager at Media Access Australia, “and argues that, as a recent starter in the entertainment industry, it shouldn’t have to bear the additional costs for captioning. It’s an argument that has long been used by subscription TV providers.
"We believe that, if you are going to provide services like this, access should be a consideration from the start.”
Summaries of Fetch TV’s applications, and the ACMA’s reasons for its preliminary decisions to grant them, can be downloaded from the Exemption orders and Target reduction orders page on the ACMA’s website.
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