Notice of temporary exemption under the DDA: Subscription Television Captioning

The Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission gives notice of a decision made on 4 June 2004 under section 57 of the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 ("DDA") concerning captioning of subscription television programming.


The exemption application was submitted by the Australian Subscription Television and Radio Association on behalf of its members.

Decision of the Commission

The Commission decides to grant an exemption under section 55 of the DDA to each of the broadcasters covered by this application, for a period of 5 years, on condition that:

  • The broadcaster concerned implement the captioning rollout as scheduled in the ASTRA proposal (commencing with captioning launch no later than 6 months from the date of this decision) for the minimum 20 channels committed to;
  • The broadcaster concerned use reasonable endeavours to enable a further 20 channels within 24 months of captioning launch, and thereafter apply the captioning rollout to any channels so enabled, according to the schedule provided in the proposal;
  • The broadcaster concerned make all reasonable endeavours to ensure availability of information on program captioning;
  • A report on compliance by the broadcaster concerned be presented to the Commission (through ASTRA or directly by the broadcaster) annually on or by the date of the Commission granting this exemption, including at the conclusion of the fifth year;
  • Reports to include reporting on measures taken to ensure quality and accuracy of captioning;
  • The broadcaster concerned (individually or through ASTRA), in consultation with organisations representing Deaf and hearing impaired Australians and organisations specialising in providing closed captioning, commence within 3 years of the date of this exemption a review of implementation of the proposal, and possibilities for further increases in captioning beyond those provided for in the present proposal - including
    • any instances where the broadcaster may be able voluntarily to exceed the targets set by the ASTRA proposal during the period of this exemption , and
    • possibilities for further increases in captioning in the period following the expiry of this exemption;
  • A proposal for a further plan for captioning by the broadcaster concerned, to commence by the time of expiry of this exemption, be presented to HREOC (directly or through ASTRA) on or by the date four years after the date of this exemption.

All relevant parties should take note that the effect of non-performance of the conditions of this exemption for any broadcaster would be that

  • In the event of a subsequent complaint the exemption would cease to apply for the benefit of the broadcaster concerned from the date of relevant non-performance.
  • It would become open to the Commission, of its own motion or at the request of any person, to re-open this matter and revoke the exemption, or apply further conditions to the exemption in respect of the broadcaster concerned.

Findings and reasons

In making this decision the Commission accepted findings and reasons contained in a recommendation and statement of reasons prepared by me as Acting Disability Discrimination Commissioner, which is available on the Commission web site .

Review of decision

Subject to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal Act 1975, application may be made to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal for a review of the decision to which this notice relates by or on behalf of any person/s whose interests are affected by the decision.


Dr Sev Ozdowski
Acting Disability Dicrimination Commissioner
on behalf of the Commission
4 June 2004