ACMA finds Prime and GTV9 breached caption regulations

Monday, 16 June 2014 13:01pm

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has found that Prime Television failed to meet its captioning obligations by broadcasting a section of the 2013 My Kitchen Rules Grand Final without captions, while GTV9 was also in breach for not captioning segments of its Evening News.

Under the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 (BSA), television license holders must provide captioning for all programs broadcast on primary channels between 6 pm and 10.30 pm, and these captions must meet standards determined by the ACMA relating to readability, comprehensibility and accuracy.

The My Kitchen Rules Grand Final went to air on 28 April 2013. Half an hour into the program, the captions cut out for almost 11 minutes. Prime Northern (Northern) Pty Ltd, which is an affiliate of the Seven network, advised the ACMA that the problem arose at Seven’s Broadcasting Centre in Melbourne, where the captioning was carried out. The ACMA found that the missing captions would have made it difficult for viewers relying on them to follow the program.

Prime argued that the breach should be disregarded because the captioning problem could be traced to its affiliate, Seven, while a subsection of the BSA allows for unforeseeable technical difficulties. However the ACMA did not accept these arguments. It noted that the loss of captions was due to an oversight by an employee of Seven’s caption provider, and this could not be classed as an error “attributable to a significant difficulty of a technical or engineering nature”.

GTV9 was found in breach of regulations for the Nine News broadcast on 3 September 2013. The ACMA found that captions did not appear until 65 seconds into the program, while 25 seconds of the first news report was also uncaptioned.

The full investigation reports can be downloaded from the 2014 television investigations page of the ACMA’s website.

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