ACMA releases free-to-air TV captioning compliance reports

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Thursday, 21 August 2014 17:48pm

Most Australian broadcasters exceeded their captioning targets in 2012-2013, according to compliance reports released today by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), although there were some breaches related to individual programs.

The ACMA reports show that all the commercial broadcasters exceeded their target for the year of captioning 90% of programs between 6 am and midnight. The ABC failed to reach it in one of its coverage areas (out of eight) and SBS for four coverage area (out of 12), but as these breaches were due to significant technical or engineering difficulties, the ACMA disregarded them.

Media Access Australia’s CEO Alex Varley welcomed the fact that most broadcasters had exceeded requirements, while noting that the report comes over a year after the reporting period ended. “It is good that caption levels are being tracked like this, because it ensures that the broadcasters take them seriously and the viewing public know that it is being properly dealt with. The results are similar to the UK, where broadcasters regularly report they have exceeded captioning requirements.”

Digital multichannels such as Gem, 7Two, Eleven and SBS2 are exempt from the normal captioning requirements, and instead must only provide captioning on repeat programs which were previously captioned for the network’s primary channel. The ACMA reports show that 123 hours of programs over all the multichannels were in breach of this requirement during 2012-2013. Varley said, “I’m disappointed that the reports do not provide the total levels of captioning on the multichannels, which can be quite high. There’s a lot of extra captioning taking place and channels like 7Mate and Eleven are doing programs outside of the regulated requirements.”

In June, the ACMA released compliance reports for subscription television for 2012-2013. These showed that most channels had met their captioning targets, while a quarter had exceeded them by at least 20%.

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