Deaf Australia wishes to share with you an update on captioning of broadcast programs.
The current legislation, “Broadcasting Services Act,” requires broadcasters to caption a targeted number of hours of free-to-air and subscription programs that are broadcasted through its network each day. It does not include internet programs.
Within the Broadcasting Service Act, it has an exemption or target reduction clause for broadcasters to request caption exemptions or target reductions with the Australian Communication and Media Authority (ACMA) for considerations.
ACMA is responsible organisation that governs and regulates the communication services, including television, radio, internet and telecommunications.
Between 1 July 2012 and 30 June 2016, a total of 279 requests for caption exemption or target reduction has been sought by broadcasters and only 38 requests have been declined. This represents about 85% of the requests being approved by ACMA – this is a significant concern for Deaf Australia as these exemptions do not take on board caption users’ rights and protections.
The Hon. Senator Mitch Fifield has recently announced the Broadcasting Licencing Fee Reform that will save broadcasters over 70 million dollars. These savings will encourage broadcasters to invest into niche groups, such as women’s sports, community programs and more. However, not one dollar of the savings will be invested into improve accessibility to program contents.
Deaf Australia wrote letters to relevant ministers across all parties raising these concerns because these actions do not reflect the National Disability Strategy 2010-2020 which calls for all broadcast programs to be fully captioned.
Senator Rachael Siewert (Green Party) contacted Deaf Australia to seek and receive advice on the wording of Senator’s Siewert’s amendment to the Broadcasting Reform Bill (2017) to ensure that provisioning of captioning services on all broadcast programs aligns with the National Disability Strategy 2010-2020. We will also be discussing this issue with Senator Carol Brown (Labor Party) to address the Broadcasting Reform Bill.
Deaf Australia believes it is important that the Deaf Community is aware of these activities so that your interests and needs are addressed at the highest level and that everyone has full access to information.
Please note: Deaf Australia will continue advocate for inclusion of Auslan content on television programs.