Revised application for exemption under DDA section 55: Subscription television captioning

See now decision. See also submissions in response; request for comment from applicants on issues raised; and response from ASTRA (MS Word)

The Commission has received a revised application (attached, MS Word format) from the Australian Subscription Television and Radio Association (ASTRA) on behalf of its members for a Temporary Exemption under section 55 of the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (DDA).

An earlier application posted on the Commission's website in June 2009 has been withdrawn.

On 4 June 2004 the Commission decided to grant an exemption regarding captioning to ASTRA's members on condition that they implemented proposals submitted by ASTRA including:

  • 20 Phase 1 channels to be enabled for captioning.
  • The Applicants to use "reasonable endeavours" to enable a further 20 Phase 2 channels within 24 months .
  • Captioning per channel captioned to commence at 5% of total hours of applicable channel programming in the first year of captioning, increasing by an additional 5% each year thereafter for the duration (or part thereof) of the 5-year rollout plan for each enabled channel (measured over a full 24-hour broadcast period)
  • ASTRA, on behalf of its members, to report annually on compliance with these targets.

In the application now made ASTRA submits that the targets set in its 2004 proposal have not only been met but exceeded.

With respect to the twenty Phase 1 Channels and twenty Phase 2 Channels, the Applicants were required to achieve minimum levels of 25% and 15% of captioning respectively across a 24 hour period in year 5 of the exemption.

The Applicants report that they reached and exceeded these levels achieving an average of 44% and 24% respectively. In addition to this the Applicants report they also enabled a further 5 channels with closed captioning and initiated a number of actions to improve accessibility and improve the subscription television experience.

ASTRA now seek a second exemption for a period of five years, on conditions detailed in their application including:

  • identifying 7 key groupings of channels where different but progressively increasing captioning targets should apply
  • increasing the total number of current channels providing some level of captioning to 65
  • reporting annually through ASTRA on compliance with these targets.
  • preparing a further plan before the conclusion of the requested exemption.

Request for submissions

In accordance with its policy on exemption applications , the Commission seeks to give interested parties an opportunity to participate in the process of considering this application.

The Commission seeks submissions by Friday 2 April 2010 , by email preferably as a Word, html or rtf document to or by Fax to 02 9284 9797

To promote open public discussion and exchange of views, the Commission intends to post submissions on its Internet site. Any requests for material to be treated as confidential should be clearly indicated.


Michael Small
Acting Director Disability Rights policy
18 February 2010