Highlights of 2013: television caption quality

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Monday, 23 December 2013 12:29pm

In June, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) released its long-awaited caption standard, setting out the criteria it will use when dealing with complaints from the public about poor captioning.

The Broadcasting Services (Television Captioning) Standard.2013 is a very important piece of legislation for Deaf and hearing impaired viewers. Prior to its release, there was no definition of captions in the Broadcasting Services Act (BSA) and no indication of what constituted adequate caption quality. This meant that the ACMA could only deal effectively with complaints about a program where the captions either did not appear, or were so bad that they were obviously useless for viewers. In recent years, as the amount of live captioning has increased, caption quality has become a major issue for consumers.

The creation of the new standard followed amendments to the BSA passed last year which gave the ACMA the power to develop guidelines for caption quality based on three criteria: readability, comprehensibility and accuracy. The new standard makes it clear to broadcasters that high quality captions are a broadcasting licence obligation, and gives the ACMA the tools to bring about real improvements in caption services.

In February, Media Access Australia will release a report on captioning standards around the world, as well as some of the models which have been developed to measure caption quality. In this, we will make recommendations about measures which could be adopted to bring about long-term improvements in caption quality.

More highlights of 2013:

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