New law passed: on-demand TV to include subtitles

The British government has voted in favour of a new law that will require VoD broadcasters to include minimum levels of subtitles.The government passed the amendment as part of the Digital Economy Bill.

The bill will allow Ofcom to set subtitling quotas for broadcasters and also recommended requirements for signing and audio description.

There will now be a consultation period lead by Ofcom on the development of a new code of conduct. The code will lay out the quotas for the amount of on-demand content that must carry subtitles, and suggestions from when this needs to happen.

Ofcom will report back to the government with recommendations on the details of the code.

How did this come about?

We have been following the on-going Subtitle It! campaign lead by the charity Action on Hearing, which over the past 2-3 years have addressed the Government and demanded that more subtitles be added to catch-up TV and films.  It has been a weighty challenge with a few setbacks but finally, now with the Government’s vote in favour, the goal will be achieved.

Paul Breckell, Action on Hearing Loss chief executive said: “We are delighted that the House of Lords passed the Subtitle It! amendment to the Digital Economy Bill and welcome the government’s commitment to act on this. We now look forward to seeing access to subtitles across on-demand programmes enshrined in law.

“How, where and when we can watch TV has moved on at an incredible pace, but people with hearing loss have been left behind.

“We look forward to continuing to work directly with the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, Ofcom, and the broadcasting industry to ensure subtitles are available so that people with a hearing loss can enjoy catching up on their favourite TV shows just like their hearing peers.”