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Networks report on TV captions (on primary channels)

Equipment failure, power outages and failure of network connectivity and even a staff member falling ill -just some of the reasons that TV captions may not have made it to air according to an industry report.

ACMA has released its 2015–16 annual compliance (captioning) for free-to-air television broadcasters.

Each free-to-air broadcaster must provide a captioning service that equates to a 100 per cent captioning target for primary channels between 6 am and midnight (except for foreign language and non-vocal music programmes).

There is still no requirement to caption multichannels in 2016, despite networks having a reduction in licence fees.

Including regional stations it found 92 services each achieved between 99.86 per cent and 99.99 per cent captioning on their primary channels in 2015–16.

On average, 99.67 per cent of all non-exempt programming broadcast on each free-to-air primary channels was captioned during 2015–16 (6 am to midnight).

This figure is up from:
99.63 per cent during 2014–15
97 per cent in 2013–14 (when the captioning target was 95 per cent)
93 per cent in 2012–13 (when the target was 90 per cent).

But there were captioning shortfalls averaging approximately 1.6 hours per service per year, across the 6,588 hours broadcast between 6 am and midnight in 2015–16 (inclusive of an additional day for the leap year).

The captioning shortfalls for 22 free-to-air television broadcasters were reported to be solely caused by unforeseen significant technical difficulties. The captioning shortfalls of the remaining 70 free-to-air television services were largely caused by unforeseen technical difficulties, with some minor captioning outages that resulted from human error.

ABC reported an instance of Caption Operators becoming ill during their News Breakfast shift.

“The Caption Operator suddenly became extremely ill and attempts to deal with this and trying to make contact with someone from Caption Operations team at that hour of the morning proved
difficult and took longer than normal to arrange for a replacement,” it reported.

“The other instance of an ill Operator resulted in a 7min loss during a NSW 7pm NEWS bulletin. As all Caption Operators were at this time busy doing Eastern state 1900 NEWS bulletins, staffing was
extremely limited and again it took longer than normal to source a replacement.”

Seven noted a 8.5hr absence of captions at its BTQ-7 service, due to failure of equipment for the Gold Coast translator services.

“This outage affected only 20% of the potential viewers of the BTQ-7 Licence area for this period. The main BTQ-7 service was not affected, nor was the Prime Gold Coast translator service,” it reported.

This year ABC ended its caption trial for iview which has left big numbers of deaf and hearing impaired viewers upset.

It is yet to report on its findings.

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