Caption levels on the new commercial digital channels

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Friday, 4 March 2011 13:18pm

Media Access Australia recently conducted a survey of captioning on the commercial digital multichannels (7Mate, 7Two, GO!, Gem, Eleven and One HD), showing levels of total captioning, first run programs captioned and programs migrated to digital multichannels without captions.

Under the Government’s rules, these channels are exempt from the captioning requirements that cover the primary channels. The only programs which must be captioned on them are those which were previously screened on the same network’s primary channel with captions. The survey shows that, in general, the commercial multichannels are only captioning the bare minimum they are obliged to do.

The survey covered two weeks, 29 January to 11 February. Caption levels on programming from 6 am to midnight ranged from 0% (One HD) to 45% (Gem). Most of this captioned programming consisted of repeats. The exceptions to this were some first-run programs on 7Two and 7Mate, new episodes of V on GO!, and Neighbours on Eleven.

Of particular concern to caption users is the fact that some programs which were previously screened on primary channels with captions (in some cases, for many years) are now being migrated to the new digital channels and are not being captioned. The survey showed that this was particularly the case with Eleven. Although, as noted, first-run episodes of Neighbours were being captioned, new episodes of The Simpsons, Futurama, Dexter, The Office and Californication were not.

Below are the survey results for total captioning, first-run programs captioned, and programs migrated to the multichannels which were not captioned, for programming between 6 am and midnight. (This is the time period covered by the agreement brokered by the Australian Human Rights Commission, which will see captions levels rise during those hours to 85% on the primary channels by the end of this year.)

The Government has announced that a review of the multichannel regulations will be conducted before the end of 2012.

Caption levels on digital multichannels 29 Jan – 11 Feb

  7Two 7Mate GO! Gem Eleven One HD
Total captioning (6 am - Midnight)
Minutes 3400 6480 3105 6760 2040 0
Percentage 22% 43% 21% 45% 13% 0%
Hours/day 4.0 7.7 3.7 8.0 2.4 0.0


  7Two 7Mate GO! Gem Eleven One HD
First-run programs captioned (6 am - Midnight)
Minutes 90 180 120 0 300 0
Percentage 1% 1% 1% 0% 2% 0%
Hours/day 0.1 0.2 0.1 0.0 0.4 0.0


  7Two 7Mate GO! Gem Eleven One HD
Programs migrated to multichannels uncaptioned (6 am - Midnight)
Minutes 0 0 0 0 560 0
Percentage 0% 0% 0% 0% 4% 0%
Hours/day 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.7 0.0


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