Under current arrangements, at the end of each financial year, free-to-air broadcasters and subscription television services must provide the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) with a report on how much captioning they have done each year on all of their channels. ACMA then makes these compliance reports available to the public on the Captioning section of its website.
Broadcasters have called for an end to reporting requirements on the grounds that they are onerous, and it is believed that the Federal Government is considering this as part of its next round of red tape repeal.
We do not believe that the reporting requirements are onerous. Broadcasters – and their caption suppliers – have records of all programs that have been captioned, as well as records of programs which were uncaptioned due to technical or other issues.
In the UK, the communications regulator Ofcom publishes Television access service reports every six months, and broadcasters or subscription TV services which fail to meet the required levels of captioning may be fined. The result is a situation where almost all channels meet their quotas for captioning, audio description and signing, and many exceed them.
In our document How you can repeal red tape and improve TV captioning, Media Access Australia has therefore called for the reporting requirements to be maintained. Without them, consumers will have no certainty that broadcasters have complied with their legal obligations regarding captioning. Reporting also means that each channel knows that all the others are playing by the rules.
'How you can repeal red tape and improve TV captioning' is available for download:
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