Government postpones changes to captioning regulations

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Wednesday, 5 November 2014 16:29pm

After lobbying from consumer groups, the Government has referred to a Senate committee a bill which would change captioning requirements for broadcasters and subscription TV providers.

Man writing the word 'Quality' with ballpoint pen in right hand

Last week, Deaf Australia, the Deafness Forum of Australia, the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN), the Australian Federation of Disability Organisations (AFDO) and Media Access Australia (MAA) condemned the proposed changes to the Broadcasting Services Act, arguing that there had been no proper public consultation about them, and they would reduce consumer protection.

Media Access Australia has prepared a detailed analysis [Word DOC, 28KB] of the proposed changes, which include:

  1. Removing compliance reporting for free-to-air television so they no longer have to publicly report that they are meeting the captioning regulations.
  2. More complex calculations for determining how much captioning sports channels should provide.
  3. Watering down measurement and regulation of caption quality.

The Broadcasting and Other Legislation Amendment (Deregulation) Bill 2014 was read into the House of Representatives on 22 October 2014. It has now been referred to the Senate Communications and Environment Committee, which will report on it in February 2015.

A petition has been started on, addressed to the Minister for Communications, Malcolm Turnbull, to keep mandatory reporting on closed captioning for free-to-air broadcasters. Media Access Australia suggests that caption users who are concerned about the proposed changes should contact their local MPs.

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