Amendments to the Broadcasting Services Act passed in 2012 introduced captioning requirements for subscription TV services. However, the ACMA has the power to grant exemption or target reduction orders to television services if providing captions for them would cause ‘unjustifiable hardship’.
In its exemption application, Telstra Pay TV stated that it does not have the technical capacity to deliver closed captions on its service as it currently exists. Its only option would be to create duplicate channels with open captions, but the additional financial costs of doing this would make its service commercially unviable. A previous application by Telstra Pay TV along the same lines was granted by the ACMA in March last year, covering the period 1 July 2012 to 30 June 2013.
The ACMA has accepted Telstra Pay TV’s claims, and has begun to post preliminary exemption orders for each of the channels available on Mobile Foxtel. These orders cover the period 1 July to 2013 to 30 June 2014. Once preliminary exemption orders are published on the ACMA’s website, the public has 30 days to make submissions relating to them before final exemption orders are made. Submissions should be emailed to the ACMA.
In 2013, the ACMA granted exemption and target reduction orders for:
- Eastern Australia Satellite Broadcasters (2 channels)
- Fetch TV (21 channels)
- Imparja Television (1 channel)
- Optus Mobile TV (5 channels)
- Setanta Sport (1 channel)
- Sky Racing (3 channels)
- Telstra Pay TV (37 channels)
- TransAct (16 channels), Sky Channel (3 channels)
- ThoroughVisioN (1 channel)
The orders were granted for periods of between one and five years.
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