Senate debates

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Questions on Notice

Australian Communications and Media Authority: Closed Captioning (Question No. 2387)

Photo of Scott LudlamScott Ludlam (WA, Australian Greens) Share this | | Hansard source

asked the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, upon notice, on 19 October 2012:

With reference the role of the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) in captioning and quotas:

(1) What monitoring process has ACMA put in place to ensure that new caption quotas are being met.

(2) How does ACMA monitor and ensure the quotas are being met in different regions of Australia.

(3) What processes are in place if a station or channel is not meeting, or is not expected to meet, the required quota.

(4) Will ACMA undertake any independent investigations to identify potential factors that may create quality issues and develop strategies to circumvent these.

(5) What consumer campaign efforts does ACMA have planned to help people understand the changes to captioning regulations.

(6) How is the ACMA ensuring: (a) which channels are being captioned and to what levels on subscription-based television: and (b) that captioning is occurring also on repeat programs.

Photo of Stephen ConroyStephen Conroy (Victoria, Australian Labor Party, Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy) Share this | | Hansard source

The answer to the honourable senator's question is as follows:

The information in the following responses has been provided by the ACMA.

(1) Affected television broadcasters are required to report annually on compliance with their captioning obligations, including compliance with quota obligations.

The ACMA also investigates all valid complaints about non-compliance with captioning obligations.

(2) Affected television broadcasters are required to report to it on compliance with their obligations, including compliance with quotas. It is anticipated that licensees will report on their compliance with captioning obligations by licence or coverage area. This information will enable the ACMA to monitor compliance with the obligations across different regions of Australia.

(3) Affected television broadcasters may, by application to the ACMA, seek exemption or target reductions from the quota requirements on the limited grounds specified in the legislation.

The ACMA can also investigate the compliance of affected television services with their quota obligations. In the event that any such service has breached its obligations, the ACMA may take one or more of the following actions:

                (4) In September 2010, the ACMA established a Co-regulatory Captioning Committee (CCC) to develop indicators for assessing the quality of captioning and work cooperatively to identify ways to circumvent quality issues.

                CCC members include broadcasters, representatives of deaf and hearing impaired community groups, relevant government departments and captioning service providers. The CCC met five times between November 2010 and January 2012 and assisted in the development of the captioning quality indicators to which the ACMA currently has regard when assessing complaints about captioning services.

                Between July and September 2012, the ACMA again consulted broadcasters, captioning service providers and consumer representatives about captioning issues, including factors that may cause quality issues and strategies to address them. This consultation has included the following steps/stages:

                      The ACMA anticipates scheduling another meeting with broadcasters, captioning service providers and consumer representatives about captioning issues by the end of 2012.

                      The ACMA also proposes to create a technical committee to quickly identify captioning issues and share knowledge and experience in circumventing potential issues.

                      (5) The ACMA had two meetings with consumer representatives about changes to captioning regulation between August and September 2012, with a further meeting with consumer representatives anticipated by the end of 2012.

                      In addition, the ACMA has published information about captioning on the ACMA's website, including a summary of changes to captioning regulations.

                      (6) (a) and (b) Subscription television licensees (broadcasters and narrowcasters) are required to report to the ACMA annually about their compliance with captioning obligations, including compliance with the obligation to caption 'repeat programs' on subscription television channels, where these programs have previously been broadcast with captions on any subscription television channel provided by the licensee.

                      (b) The ACMA will also investigate any valid complaints.