New Zealand

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New Zealand does not as yet have any legislation in place requiring broadcasters to provide captioning or audio description. Instead, these services are paid for by an independent broadcast funding agency, NZ On Air, which is in turn funded by the New Zealand government.

As there is no regulation covering television access, there is no mechanism for access services to be increased systematically, and the actual hours of captioning and audio description broadcast are determined by the extent that NZ On Air decides to fund them. Captioning levels on New Zealand television are significantly lower than in the UK, US and Australia.

In December 2011, The New Zealand Broadcast Access Council, which works to increase the amount of captioning on television, released the results of a survey, Captioning in New Zealand: Evidence to support legislation change to make captioning in New Zealand compulsory [PDF 776 KB]. The report notes that there were 250,000 Deaf and hearing impaired people in the country (6% of the population), but less than 10% of programs across all channels were captioned. 86% of the 400 people who took part in the survey wanted a change in legislation to make captioning compulsory. The report also included information about Deaf and hearing impaired viewers’ use of the subscription service SkyTV, making a business case for it to introduce captions. Subsequent to the report’s release, and after unsuccessfully trying to obtain funding from NZ On Air, SkyTV introduced a captioning service on 13 of its channels in February 2013.

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