Networks get a tick for Captioning


Media watchdog the Australian Communications and Media Authority has released data on networks meeting their captioning targets for 2013-14.

All commercial television broadcasters and SBS have exceeding their targets, but ABC has missed by 1% because rage was not captioned until June 2014.

In Subscription TV, 656 out of 660 services met their targets but 4 did not.

Captioned programs made up approximately 97 per cent of the total hours of all non-exempt programs broadcast between 6 am and midnight on free-to-air broadcasters’ primary television channels. This compares with a captioning target of 95 per cent and is up from 93 per cent in 2012–13 (when the target was 90 per cent).

Ninety-nine per cent of subscription television services met the 2013-14 captioning targets and 67 per cent exceeded the target.

In 2013/14, free-to-air television services were required to provide captioning for at least an average of 95 per cent of the total duration of non-exempt programs broadcast on their main channels over the year, between the hours of 6 am and midnight each day. Exempt programs include foreign programs (wholly not in English) and music programs that do not contain human vocal content.

All free-to-air and subscription television services met requirements to broadcast emergency warnings in text and speech, and if practicable, with captioning.

“The ACMA took a pragmatic approach, given the overall outstanding performance and the positive trend line,’ said ACMA Chairman, Chris Chapman. “All of the television services that fell short of meeting the captioning obligations in 2013–14 have taken appropriate steps to prevent similar issues recurring, including resolving technical issues, enhancing procedures and undertaking staff training.”

More information about the compliance results and the annual captioning compliance reports received from television services are available below:

  • All 51 commercial television broadcasting licensees (75 licensed services in total) and the SBS reported that they had exceeded their annual captioning target for 2013/14.
  • The ABC failed to meet the target by approximately one per cent (or 60 hours) in all of its eight coverage areas. This was because the music program Rage was not captioned until June 2014, when the ABC provided captions for the program from 10.30 am to 11.30 am. Since 1 July 2014, the ABC has expanded the captioning for this program to the period between 6 am and midnight.

In 2013/14, a total of approximately 2,080,552 hours of captioned content were broadcast on subscription television services, an increase of 622,192 hours of captioning compared to the amount of captioned content in the previous financial year 2012/13.

In 2013/14 subscription broadcasters reported the following:

  • Approximately 99 per cent of subscription television services (656 out of 660) reported meeting their annual captioning target requirements for 2013/14.
  • 67 per cent exceeded the target.
  • All subscription television services complied with requirements to transmit emergency warnings in the form of text, speech and if reasonably practicable to do so, with captioning.

Nine in ten subscription television services (92 per cent) met all their captioning obligations for 2013/14.

Four Subscription services/channels failed to meet the annual captioning target. Consequently, the one licensee concerned breached the annual captioning target requirement in relation to those services/channels.

You can read more on Free to Air captioning here and Subscription captioning here.


  1. With the SVOD services I’ve been really pleased to discover that all the shows and movies I’ve watched on Netflix so far have had CC but I haven’t found any content yet on Stan with CC. Hopefully they will soon.

    BTW, I’ve really got to start writing down some of the funny stuff ups of CC compared to the audio, like the ‘Mayor Saliva’ in Jason’s comment, some of them are priceless.

  2. ABC24 stops captioning at 11pm AEST, which is weird as it’s only 8/9pm in WA at that time. Also strange that so many programs being rerun on secondary channels are not captioned, when they were captioned on the primary channel no so long ago.
    ABC has taken the humour out of “Question Time” as ‘The Member for Blah Blah’ doesn’t appear as often now.
    There are still some howlers on “live” programs and ad-lib news captioning. WIN Wollongong wishes the Shellharbour mayor, Saliba, would be replaced (for more than one reasons). Her name is frequently captioned ‘Mayor Saliva’.

  3. Those figures look amazing until you realise they relate only to programs which must be captioned according to ACMA mandates. I would be more interested to see the total amount of hours of programming broadcast a year on all FTA and STV channels and a breakdown of how much was captioned. Currently there is still no mandate for FTA multichannels to be captioned and as a result very little offers CC, with the majority of the exceptions being shows which have already aired on the primary channel and as a result are required to offer CCs. Thus if you don’t include these shows in the figures I’d be game to say less than 10% of all FTA multichannel programs offer CCs. Someone please correct me if I’m wrong but that is based on my experience.

    • Also, although the networks are mandated to offer CCs for shows on their primary channel for the majority of the day, the majority of the commercial networks don’t apply those CCs to their online catch up services. SBS and ABC do a fine job of offering CCs to their catch up services (and ABC is currently also offering Audio Description), but I believe all of the commercial networks offer only limited (if any) CC on their online programming – despite the fact they have already paid for the content to be CC. Is it the monetary factor of having to make alterations to their catch up platforms, or is it simply because they don’t have to so they don’t bother?

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