ACMA asks for feedback on caption quality

Thursday, 19 November 2015 15:49pm

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has released a discussion paper entitled ‘Review of the Television Captioning Standard’, and is requesting comments on it from interested parties.

Australian Government | ACMA: Australian Communications and Media Authority logos printed on a glass panel. Image credit: acma.gov.au

The Broadcasting Services Act states that the ACMA has the power to develop standards relating to caption quality based on readability, comprehensibility and accuracy. In 2013, the ACMA released its Captioning Quality Standard, which elaborates on this definition of quality and gives a list of factors it will consider when assessing caption quality.

In Australia, as in other countries, most instances of poor-quality captioning occur when it is performed live. In its discussion paper, the ACMA outlines some of the differences between captioning for live and part-live programs, and captioning for pre-recorded programs. It also looks at the caption quality standards in place in the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada, and gives an overview of complaints about caption quality that the ACMA has received since 2013.

When formulating its Captioning Standard, the ACMA did not define caption quality in terms of metrics (for example, stating that captions are required to meet accuracy targets expressed in terms of percentages). The discussion paper is offering two options: to maintain this non-metric standard, or to introduce a metric standard which could be applied to both live and pre-recorded programs.

The closing date for submissions is 18 December 2015.

In 2014, Media Access Australia published a white paper, Caption quality: International approaches to standards and measurement, which looks at these issues in depth.


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