Seven “very concerned” after caption breach for Highway Patrol

Seven has been found to have breached the Broadcasting Services Act after the media watchdog found it failed to meet caption standards in September.

An episode of Highway Patrol ran without full captions for the deaf and hearing-impaired in what has been attributed to “teething problems” after moving its entire playout function from Melbourne to a new National Playout Centre in Sydney.

Under broadcasting regulations Seven must provide a captioning service for the program, which was broadcast from 7:30 pm to 7:55 pm on 16 September 2019.

“My hearing-impaired husband cannot understand the TV without captions. I am complaining on his behalf as he cannot use computers, internet,” a complainant told the Australian Communications and Media Authority.

Seven acknowledged that it did not provide captions for the first three segments of the program, noting that captions resumed for segment four.

A captioning warning, ‘Closed captions not available’, was broadcast for 10 seconds during segment two.

Seven attributed the error to difficulties of a technical or engineering nature which could not be foreseen.

Last month Seven told ACMA, “As noted in our initial response to the ACMA, immediately following this captioning failure, staff involved were re-trained. Seven has recently moved its entire playout function from Melbourne to a new National Playout Centre in Sydney (the NPC). This has been a significant change including new staff, new equipment and new processes. The error in this instance was one of a number of teething problems that have occurred in the transition to the new operations. However, we are confident that in the long run, the new playout facility will provide a superior captioning service to our viewers.

“Seven is very concerned by this captioning failure and we appreciate the importance of the captioning service to our deaf and hearing-impaired viewers. We have been surprised by the issues that have occurred in relation to the captioning, which did not emerge during the extensive testing period prior to the transition to NPC. A committee of all stakeholders is now meeting daily to seek to resolve all issues with the utmost urgency. We can assure you Seven is taking this matter very seriously, including the involvement of our CEO.”

ACMA did not advise of any penalty nor punishment.

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