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Conclusion of the Audio Description Trial on ABC1

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Media Release

Senator the Hon Stephen Conroy Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on Digital Productivity

Conclusion of the Audio Description Trial on ABC1

The Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy, today announced the conclusion of the technical audio description trial conducted on ABC television.

"This trial was the first test of audio description on Australian television, and I thank the ABC for conducting it for the Government," Senator Conroy said.

Audio description is intended to assist viewers with a vision impairment by providing an additional verbal commentary that explains what is happening visually during television programs to complement the underlying soundtrack.

The 13-week trial was designed to test how broadcasters capture audio description through to its transmission in the broadcast signal and how it is received in the home.

"I would also like to thank those people with a vision impairment who participated in the trial, and those who have provided feedback to me and the ABC."

"It’s clear that audio description is a service that is strongly desired by the vision-impaired community, and the trial was embraced with real enthusiasm by participants. I share that enthusiasm for what new digital technologies can provide to enable improved access to television and other electronic media for people with a disability.

"However, there were significant technical concerns raised during the trial, with over 1000 complaints from viewers whose reception of ABC1 was disrupted because of the audio description broadcast."

The ABC will continue to collect feedback on the trial through a survey that is available online on the ABC website until Wednesday 7 November 2012. They will then provide a report to the government before the end of the year.

"The audio description trial is an important first step on the pathway to establishing a permanent audio description service on Australian television, and we were pleased to be able to provide funding for it in very tight economic circumstances."

The government will carefully consider the ABC’s report and looks forward to working cooperatively with all parties to address the issues raised.

Date: 5 November 2012

Contact: Adam Sims 0408 258 457