Spot audits on TV closed captioning obligations

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) puts its focus each year on key areas for improved industry compliance.

In 2022-23, ACMA will shift from investigating individual complaints to conducting spot audits to determine whether TV broadcasters are consistently and reliably meeting their captioning obligations.

Captioning of TV programs is essential for many audiences to access and enjoy television.

Australian Communications Consumer Action Network CEO Andrew Williams said his organisation and Deafness Forum Australia had been calling on the ACMA to actively monitor captions on Australian television for many years.

“We believe that the ACMA’s reliance on consumer complaints does not provide adequate community safeguards for monitoring broadcasters’ captioning obligations on television.

“We are pleased to see that the ACMA has listened to deaf and hearing-impaired organisations such as Deafness Forum, and will now be pro-actively monitoring live captioning on broadcast television as one of its 2022-23 compliance priorities,” Mr Williams said.

“We hope that the spot checks to be undertaken by the ACMA proves to be an effective tool in improving compliance.”

Read more about the ACMA’s other priorities in 2022-23.

Captioning is the text version of speech and other sounds that can be provided on television, DVDs, videos on the internet, cinemas, theatres and public places like museums.

Captions are either selected as desired (closed captions), usually by turning the captions function on or off, or they are included so that they automatically appear on a screen (open captions). You may see the ‘CC’ symbol for closed captions or the ‘OC’ symbol for open captions on TV program guides, DVDs and accessible cinema session guides.

Learn more about captions here