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
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