Save Search

Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Captioning for the Deaf and Hearing Impaired Bill 1998

Bill home page  


Download WordDownload Word


Download PDFDownload PDF

1996-97-98

 

 

 

 

The Senate

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Captioning for the Deaf and Hearing Impaired Bill 1998

 

 

 

(Senator Stott Despoja)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Explanatory Memorandum



Background

 

Australia lags behind other countries in providing captioned television broadcasting for the deaf and hearing impaired. Currently, only 13% of Australian television broadcasts carry closed captions, compared with 45% of television broadcasts in the United Kingdom and 90% in the USA.

 

Although Australian commercial networks adhere to a code of practice committing them to increasing the amount of captioning, there are no legally set targets as there are in the United Kingdom and the USA.

 

Outline of the Bill

 

The Bill proposes a number of measures to enhance the access of people who are deaf and hearing impaired people to television broadcasts.

 

The first measure is to require all television programs broadcast between 4.00 pm and 10.30 pm each night (by relevant local time) on commercial broadcasting services and on the ABC and SBS to be captioned from 1 July 2000.

 

The second measure is to require all news and current affairs programs, regardless of the time of day at which they are broadcast, to be captioned from 1 July 2000.

 

Thirdly, all programs must be captioned from 1 July 2010.

 

These requirements do not apply to a program which is broadcast live to air and cannot reasonably be captioned.

 

Fourthly, all television sets sold or hired in Australia from 1 July 2002 must be captioned.

 

Finally, all new videos released for sale or hire from 1 July 2002 must be captioned.

 

Notes on Clauses

 

Clause 1

 

Clause 1 of the Bill provides for the short title of the Act to be the Captioning for the Deaf and Hearing Impaired Act 1998 .

 

Clause 2

 

Clause 2 provides that the Act commences on the day on which it receives the Royal Assent.

 

Clause 3

 

Clause 3 provides that the Acts specified in the Schedules are amended or repealed as indicated in individual items within the Schedules.

 

Schedule 1

 

Schedule 1 contains amendments of the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 .

 

Item 1

 

Item 1 adds new subsections 13(6) and (7) to the Broadcasting Services Act. Section 13 defines national broadcasting services as:

 

·       broadcasting services provided by the ABC in accordance with section 6 of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation Act 1983 ;

 

·       broadcasting services provided by the SBS in accordance with section 6 of the Special Broadcasting Service Act 1991 ; and

 

·       broadcasting services provided under the Parliamentary Proceedings Broadcasting Act 1946 .

 

Subsection 13(5) provides that the regulatory regime established by the Broadcasting Services Act does not apply to national broadcasting services except as provided by the Act.

 

New subsection (6) inserts such an exception, namely, a requirement for the ABC and SBS to ensure that captions are applied to:

 

·       each program broadcast on or after 1 July 2000 that start at or after 4.00 pm and before 10.30 pm by legal time in the State or Territory where the main audience for the program is situated; and

 

·       each news and current affairs program broadcast by the ABC or SBS on or after 1 July 2000; and

 

·       each program broadcast on or after 1 July 2010.

 

New subsection (7) provides that these requirements do not apply to broadcasting services in certain circumstances.

 

New subsection (8) provides for exemptions to be prescribed in the regulations.

 

Item 2

 

Item 2 amends Part 3 of Schedule 2 of the Broadcasting Services Act to insert as a condition of commercial licences the requirement for the licensee to ensure that captions are applied to:

 

·       each program broadcast on or after 1 July 2000 that start at or after 4.00 pm and before 10.30 pm by legal time in the State or Territory where the main audience for the program is situated; and

 

·       each news and current affairs program broadcast by the licensee on or after 1 July 2000; and

 

·       each program broadcast on or after 1 July 2010;

 

except where such programs cannot reasonably be captioned. The regulations may prescribe exemptions.

 

A breach of this requirement will be subject to the sanctions provided under the Act for breaches of any licence condition.

 

Item 3

 

Item 3 amends part 6 of Schedule 2 of the Broadcasting Services Act to insert a condition of subscription television licences the requirement for the licensee to ensure that captions are applied to:

 

·       each program broadcast on or after 1 July 2000 that start at or after 4.00 pm and before 10.30 pm by legal time in the State or Territory where the main audience for the program is situated; and

 

·       each news and current affairs program broadcast by the licensee on or after 1 July 2000; and

 

·       each program broadcast on or after 1 July 2010;

 

except where such programs cannot reasonably be captioned. The regulations may prescribe exemptions.

 

A breach of this requirement will be subject to the sanctions provided under the Act for breaches of any licence condition.

 

Item 4

 

Item 4 amends part 7 of Schedule 2 of the Broadcasting Services Act to insert as a condition of subscription television narrowcasting and open narrowcasting television class licences the requirement for the licensee to ensure that captions are applied to:

 

·       each program broadcast on or after 1 July 2000 that start at or after 4.00 pm and before 10.30 pm by legal time in the State or Territory where the main audience for the program is situated; and

 

·       each news and current affairs program broadcast by the licensee on or after 1 July 2000; and

 

·       each program broadcast on or after 1 July 2010;

 

except where such programs cannot reasonably be captioned. The regulations may prescribe exemptions.

 

A breach of this requirement will be subject to the sanctions provided under the Act for breaches of any licence condition.

 

Schedule 2

 

Schedule 2 contains amendments of the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 .

 

Item 1

 

Item 1 inserts into section 24 of the Disability Discrimination Act two additional grounds of discrimination in relation to the provision of goods, services and facilities.

 

New subsections 24(1A) and (1B) provide that a person is taken to discriminate against another person with a hearing disability on the grounds of that person’s disability if:

 

·       after 1 July 2002, the person sells or makes available for sale or hire to the other person a new video that does not include captions;

 

·       after 1 July 2002, the person sells or makes available for sale or hire a television set that is not able to decode teletext.

 

New subsection 24(1C) excludes from the operation of subsection (1A) any video of which not more than 2000 copies in total have been made for sale or hire. This exclusion recognises that the requirement for captioning would be an unnecessary financial imposition on small productions and likely to restrict their creation. However, if more than a total of 2000 copies of a video are manufactured for sale or hire, the captioning requirement would apply.