Government proposes to end caption reporting by free-to-air broadcasters

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Wednesday, 22 October 2014 17:18pm

A bill was today introduced into the House of Representatives by the Minister for Communications, Malcolm Turnbull, which would remove the requirement that free-to-air broadcasters need to report annually on their compliance with captioning targets.

Parliament House, Canberra

The Broadcasting Services Act currently requires broadcasters to provide a report to the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) within 90 days after the end of each financial year, which shows their compliance with captioning targets during that financial year. The Broadcasting and Other Legislation Amendment (Deregulation) Bill 2014 would remove this requirement. Other amendments in the bill which would affect captioning include the following:

  • The ACMA will take into account whether a program was pre-recorded or live when determining whether the captions on it were of acceptable quality. It may also disregard complaints about captions if the fault was due to a technical or engineering issue which could not have reasonably been foreseen by the broadcaster.
  • The deadline for channels to apply for an exemption from captioning requirements will be extended to 31 March in the financial year for which the exemption is requested.
  • Subscription television sports channels will be able to average caption targets across an associated group of channels.
  • New subscription TV channels will be granted a 12-month exemption from captioning obligations.
  • Programs screened on a subscription TV channel which were previously captioned when screened on another subscription TV channel will no longer have to be captioned.

The bill is due to be debated in the House of Representatives on the next Repeal Red Tape Day, Wednesday, 29 October.

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