ACMA grants subscription TV caption exemptions

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Tuesday, 8 April 2014 16:33pm

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has granted caption exemptions to three subscription TV suppliers, Telstra Pay TV, Optus Vision Media and Fetch TV. 

Under theBroadcasting Services Act, 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 application for exemptions for 34 channels available on its Telstra Mobile Foxtel service, Telstra Pay TV stated that it does not have the technical capacity to deliver closed captions on the service as it currently exists.  The only way it could deliver then would be to create duplicate channels with open captions, but the additional financial costs of doing this would make its service commercially unviable.

In a submission made after the ACMA released preliminary exemption orders in February, MAA noted that the Federal Communications Commission in the US introduced rules in October 2013 that make it compulsory for all devices used to receive or play digital video – including smartphones – to receive and display captions, so there is no technical impediment to delivering them on mobile devices.

Optus Vision Media’s exemption application was for the Ovation channel, and Fetch TV’s was for Channel News Asia. The ACMA also granted exemptions for these services on the grounds of unjustifiable hardship.

Telstra Pay TV has been granted an exemption for the year 1 July 2013 – 31 June 2015, while the exemptions for Optus Vision Media and Fetch TV are for 1 July 2013 – 31 June 2015.

The exemption orders can be downloaded from the Final Exemption orders and Target reduction orders section of the ACMA’s website. You can download this and other Media Access Australia submissions from our policy section.

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