Date: 
Tuesday 8 May 2012

Captioning levels on subscription television services will be increased over the next three years, under an agreement reached between the Australian Human Rights Commission and the Australian Subscription Television and Radio Association (ASTRA).

The agreement was reached together with leading captioning expert body, Media Access Australia and has been endorsed by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

The agreement will see captioning levels increase by approximately five to ten per cent each year across existing subscription TV channels, and includes minimum captioning levels to be provided on all new channels.

Over the next three years, captioning of some subscription movie channels is intended to increase from 55 % to 75 %, captioning of some subscription general entertainment channels from 35 % to 55%, and captioning of subscription sports channels from 5 % to 15 %.   

In return, subscription TV providers will be exempt from Disability Discrimination Act complaints about levels of captioning until 2015 so long as they carry out the terms of the agreement.

“I commend the members of ASTRA for their commitment to continued increases in captioning levels. I’m very pleased we were able to reach this agreement,” said Disability Discrimination Commissioner Graeme Innes.

This week’s agreement is the latest in a series of decisions by the Australian Human Rights Commission which have resulted in captioning levels increasing by around 5% every year since 2003 for free to air TV, and since 2004 for subscription TV.

“This agreement will ensure that over 2 million Australians who are deaf or have a hearing impairment will have more choices in the programs they can watch,” said Commissioner Graeme Innes.

The number of people with hearing impairments is expected to increase further with the ageing of the Australian population.

“As well as benefiting people who are deaf or have a hearing impairment, captions are also used by many other people, such as in noisy environments like sports bars or airports, or family homes at dinner time,” said Commissioner Graeme Innes.

Media contact: Neena Mairata (02) 9284 9862 or 0417 957 525

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