Television: Hearing Impairment

Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport written question – answered on 16th September 2020.

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Photo of Lord Foster of Bath Lord Foster of Bath Chair, Rural Economy Committee

To ask Her Majesty's Government what powers Ofcom has to require television broadcasters to put subtitles on all children’s programmes.

Photo of Baroness Barran Baroness Barran The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

Under the Communications Act 2003, broadcast television channels are required to make a certain proportion of their programmes, including children’s programmes, accessible.

Statutory targets are set by Ofcom which include five and ten year targets on subtitling, sign language and audio description for licensed television services. Ofcom’s Code on Television Access Services sets out these obligations and provides guidance and best practice on subtitling for broadcasters. This includes guidance in relation to subtitles aimed at young children which states that:

care should be taken to ensure that these are accurate and grammatical, as children and parents use subtitles in developing literacy skills”.

Television content on demand should be accessible for all UK audiences. That is why, under the Digital Economy Act 2017, the Government included measures to facilitate accessibility requirements for on-demand services. Officials are working closely with Ofcom to implement this legislation.

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