Broadcast regulator reviewing the circumstances that dictate when a provider of on-demand services should make content accessible.
Many on-demand and catch-up TV services are not currently accessible to people with hearing and sight impairments, because subtitles, audio description and/or signing are unavailable. Regulations are now being considered that would force broadcasters to offer accessible services. The rules would work in similar way to existing regulations that apply to traditional linear channels.
It’s been recommended by Ofcom that on-demand providers regulated in the UK should offer 80% of programmes with subtitles, 10% with audio description and 5% of programmes with in-vision signing.
Exemptions are now being proposed that will allow smaller on-demand programme providers to avoid coming under the quotas. Ofcom is currently consulting on these proposals, that would see the following exemptions being applied:
- Exemption based on affordability: this would apply to any on-demand programme provider which qualifies as a
“small company” under the Companies Act 2006 or when the cost of meeting requirements
exceeds 1% of provider turnover.
- Exemption based on audience benefit: this would apply to on-demand services on platforms which
receive fewer than 200,000 unique visitors on average per month (0.4% of UK online individuals).
- Exemption based on technical difficulty: this would apply in relation to any on-demand provider that
can demonstrate it has made “reasonable endeavours” to provide access services on third-party
platforms but has been unsuccessful.
On-demand service providers would additionally have a choice between providing 5% of programmes with in-vision signing, or making a financial payment to a provider of online signed content. This proposal mirrors a similar arrangement in place for linear channels, who fund signed programming on TV channel Together and the morning British Sign Language slot on Film4’s broadcast channel.