Subtitles will be able on a small selection of Channel 4 programmes on Freeview, Sky, Virgin Media and All 4. But most of its offshoot channels remain without subtitles.
Channel 4 confirmed on Friday afternoon that it had restored subtitle tracks by linking up its emergency back-up to Arqiva’s equipment in Broadcast Centre. A test run of the workaround had been in place since last Friday on Sky, when a number of programmes began to carry teletext-based subtitles.
As a result, Friday evening’s Channel 4 schedule will include subtitles during Channel 4 News, Gogglebox (pictured above) and The Last Leg. In addition, this weekend’s F1 racing and episodes of the Great British Bake-Off will also carry subtitles. Additional programmes will be added.
Earlier this week, subtitles were added to a selection of programmes on All 4 (except the Sky/Virgin versions of the app). Now viewers with Freeview, Sky and Virgin Media will be able to access subtitles. But subtitles will remain unavailable on Freesat for now. Most of Channel 4’s off-shoot channels also remain without subtitles.
Why are there no subtitles on Freesat?
Channel 4’s back-up solution is only supplying a teletext-style subtitle feed via satellite.
However, on satellite TV platforms, broadcasters usually carry two subtitle streams:
- Teletext subtitles
- DVB subtitles
Teletext subtitles use the same technology that used to power Ceefax and similar services. They are more blocky in appearance and the letters may appear closer together. Only Sky boxes still support this technology.
DVB subtitles is the modern subtitling standard. It’s used exclusively by Freesat boxes and is incidentally also the standard used for Freeview. Subtitle text is rounder in nature and individual words tend to be easier to read.
Until Channel 4 can add a DVB subtitle feed to its services, subtitles will not appear on Freesat devices.
Across all digital TV platforms, subtitles on off-shoot channels (e.g. E4/Film4), plus audio description and in-vision signing won’t be fully functional until mid-November.
Channel 4 has thanked the BBC, ITV, Freeview, Arqiva and Red Bee Media for their efforts and help in restoring subtitles.