Outcry as Irish TV reduces captioning

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Wednesday, 16 May 2012 10:55am

TV Access, a coalition of organisations in the disability and ageing sector, has strongly condemned new Access Rules released by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) which will see reduced levels of captioning on television and no increase in the already low levels of sign language and audio description.

Under the new rules, caption levels on RTÉ One will fall from 98% to 83% and on RTÉ Two from 80% to 60% (RTÉ is Ireland’s public broadcaster), while there will be similar reductions on  other channels.

"The TV Access Coalition is deeply shocked by the proposed new rules that will significantly reduce the amount of subtitling available on Irish television and will leave the targets for ISL (Irish Sign Language) and audio description at a minimal derisory 1% that will only apply to the two main RTÉ channels,” said TV Access spokesperson Mark Magennis.

In addition to the reduction in caption levels, broadcasters will be “allowed to miss targets if they can claim to be working hard to increase reliability and quality, or adding subtitling to home-produced or live programmes.” When BAI launched a consultation process about its proposed new rules in December 2011, TV Access argued in its submission that “We think it is fundamentally wrong to play off quality against quantity in this way.”

TV Access’s media release about the new rules notes that none of the four main Irish channels met their captioning targets in the last three years. “The BAI has done nothing about these failures to comply with its rules and now seems to be rewarding non-compliance by reducing the requirements. This is a retrograde step which will lead to deepening exclusion.”

TV Access is calling for 100% captioning and 10% audio description of all public service broadcasting by 2015, which would bring Ireland into line with captioning and audio description targets in the UK and other countries.

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