After finding that Nine Network stations TCN and NBN breached their licence conditions by failing to provide a captioning service, Nine has agreed to put in place an independent audit system to prevent future breaches.
It is the first time an investigation by the Australian Communications and Media Authority has received this voluntary undertaking for a captions-related breach.
Under the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 (the Act), it is a condition that commercial television licensees provide a captioning service for all news and current affairs programs.
However, since 2005, TCN and NBN have breached the captioning requirements on several occasions. In this case, NBN failed to provide a captioning service for NBN Evening News for four broadcasts between 24 June 2010 and 28 July 2010; and TCN for a segment of A Current Affair on 28 July 2010.
‘Given Nine’s patchy track record in providing this essential service, the ACMA considers that the introduction of outside auditors reflects an appropriate measure of independence and oversight,’ said ACMA Chairman, Chris Chapman. ‘We welcome Nine’s initiative in resolving this matter, however, the ACMA will naturally continue to closely monitor any complaints received about caption delivery in the broadcasting sector.
The captioning process and delivery at TCN and NBN will be independently audited. six monthly over a period of two years, and began from 14 March 2011.
In addition, the ACMA is working with industry, consumers and government in the development of indicators for the assessment of caption quality. Quality is a primary concern of consumers and the captioning working committee is aiming to develop meaningful, measureable and deliverable quality indicators that are acceptable to all stakeholders.
To this end, the committee has met regularly following the ACMA captioning forum in September 2010 with the most recent meeting taking place on 21 March 2011.