Captioning statutory review | ACMA

Captioning statutory review

Report on the review

The Australian Communications and Media Authority has submitted to the Minister for Communications a report on a review (the statutory review) of the captioning rules for TV services under the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 (the BSA).

The terms of the review are set out in the BSA and require the ACMA to review the ‘operation’ of the captioning rules. With this in mind, the focus of the ACMA’s review was on the efficiency and effectiveness of these rules. In conducting the review the ACMA was guided by the public interest in both improving access to television services for Australia’s deaf and hearing impaired community and minimising unnecessary administrative and financial burdens for industry.

As part of the review, the ACMA issued a consultation paper and also consulted directly with stakeholders. Twenty four submissions were received and published on the ACMA’s website.

The ACMA’s report does not recommend specific legislative amendments. It does, however, identify:

  • Stakeholder consensus about the complexity of the current framework for subscription television. The ACMA supports existing proposals to simplify this framework and increase transparency for audiences.
  • Stakeholder concern about the legislative framework for exemptions and target reductions. The ACMA is of the view that it would be beneficial to review this framework, including the relevant criteria for making exemption or target reduction orders.
  • The high level of interest in the captioning requirements for free-to-air multichannels. While there is strong consumer support for extending captioning requirements to free-to-air multichannels, this is not supported by broadcasters. The ACMA is of the view that while extending captioning requirements would enhance viewer access, the associated benefits would need to be carefully measured against the additional costs to industry.
  • Stakeholder support for audio description to assist viewers who are blind or visually impaired – although audio description is outside the scope of the statutory review.

The report also notes the ACMA’s commitment to continuous improvement of captioning resources on its website. This will include updating existing videos about captioning obligations and creating two new information videos – a behind the scenes look at how captions are created and a troubleshooting video – captioned and also in Auslan. The ACMA will also continue to monitor:

  • future complaints and enquiries about the inclusion of Auslan interpreters in emergency warnings
  • the operation of an existing ability for subscription television broadcasters to aggregate captioning targets across their sports services – this includes the effectiveness of mechanisms for communicating captioning availability to viewers
  • relevant technical and other environmental factors affecting the quality of captioning

More information about captioning and broadcasters obligations is available here.


Paper Word PDF

Review of the captioning obligations in the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 [consultation paper]

1.8 MB


Report on the review of the captioning obligations in the Broadcasting Services Act 1992

408 KB

377 KB 

Last updated: 26 February 2018