Broadcasting: Visual Impairment

Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport written question – answered on 9th February 2022.

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Photo of Julian Knight Julian Knight Chair, Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, Chair, Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, Chair, Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Sub-committee on Online Harms and Disinformation, Chair, Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Sub-committee on Online Harms and Disinformation

To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, if her Department will make an assessment of the effectiveness of Ofcom in ensuring that broadcasters (a) meet minimum targets for audio description of programmes and (b) take effective steps to publicise awareness of their audio description services.

Photo of Julia Lopez Julia Lopez Parliamentary Secretary (Cabinet Office), Minister of State

As part of promoting a digitally inclusive society, the department engages with a range of stakeholders including disability charities, broadcasters, and Ofcom to support improving accessibility requirements in DCMS sectors.

In broadcasting, Ofcom is responsible for enforcing statutory targets for the provision of access services, including audio description, for broadcasters’ linear TV services. These targets are set out in Ofcom’s Code on Television Access Services. In their most recent report on Access services, Ofcom found that in the first half of 2021 channels continued to meet or exceed their requirements to provide access services. Ofcom’s Code also makes clear that Ofcom requires broadcasters to make potential users aware of the available audio description through electronic programme guides, on-air announcements and information in relevant publications.

In addition to the statutory targets for audio description on linear TV services, the government is giving careful consideration to the improvement of audio description services. In particular we are evaluating Ofcom’s recommendations on how accessibility requirements can be extended to on demand services.

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