6% of the content on Prime TV Channel will have captioning. A good start but still a long way to go!

SKY spokeswoman Kirsty Way said earlier this week: “We are really pleased Prime will now be able to show captions on these quality local shows, thanks to the contribution of ABLE along with our investment in infrastructure.”

So what do we know about captioning on the Sky owned free to air Prime TV channel?

Q – When will captioning start?

A – No date has been announced but it is expected to be February 2016

Q – How much of Prime TV will have captions?

A – The New Zealand Captioning Working Group understand this will be 10 hours per week. (Approximately 6% of the content broadcast on Prime TV in a week)

Q – Who is paying for the captions on Prime?

A – Able via NZ On Air funding are paying for the captions to be created for each programme. Sky television have made an investment in equipment to enable pre-recorded shows to carry captions

Q – What will be captioned on Prime TV?

A – The Broadcasting minister said the focus will be “on local, New Zealand on Air (NZOA) funded and prime time content”. For example “Decades In Colour, The Crayfishers, Forensics and Shearing Gang” all made for Prime Television with funding from NZ On Air

Q – How much money did Sky owned Prime TV receive from NZ On Air in the last 4 NZ On Air funding rounds representing approximately a year.

A – Almost $8.4M

Q – Will the new technology solve the Rugby World Cup captioning issue?

A – No, the infrastructure investment made by Sky is to support pre-recorded content only, not live content

Q – Will major sporting events shown on Prime TV have captioning now?

A – The New Zealand Captioning Working Group have already asked whether captioning will be available for the Rio 2016 Olympic coverage. The recent technology implemented at Sky is only for pre-recorded content (ie not live TV).

Q – What does the minister mean by prime time? Is it relevant in the digital era?

A – Television broadcast between 6pm – 10pm on linear TV (any channel) is considered prime time. Whilst many New Zealanders can choose to watch what they want when they want, no NZ on demand or catch up TV service (like TVNZ On Demand) offers captioning. Netflix offers captions.

Q – How much money do the New Zealand government via NZ On Air invest in accessible media via Able?

A – After a funding boost this year, NZ on Air now funds Able to the tune of NZD 2.8 million a year. This funds 265 captioned hours and 35 hours of audio description per week for TVNZ, Media Works and Prime TV free to air. This funding covers linear television only (excluding subtitles on Maori TV which are not created or funded by Able). No funding is available to on demand or catch up services such as Lightbox, NEON etc. Of these, only Netflix offers captioning.

Q – Is the government requiring broadcasters to caption?

A – No, there is no legislation in New Zealand requiring broadcasters to caption linear TV or on demand services.

The New Zealand public are becoming aware of the issues Deaf and the many hundreds of thousands of hard of hearing affected by the lack of captioning on New Zealand TV. Thousands have signed the petition. You can sign here: https://www.change.org/p/the-new-zealand-house-of-representatives-hon-amy-adams-minister-of-broadcasting-legislate-for-captioning-to-give-deaf-and-hard-of-hearing-new-zealanders-words-on-screens

The New Zealand Captioning Working Group are delighted that Sky has recognised this and responded by introducing 10 hours per week on Prime TV. It’s a good start but there is still a long long way to go. We call on the government to do the right thing and legislate enabling captioning access 24 hours a day, 7 days a week – whatever we watch, however we watch it.



NZ On Air Funding for PrimeTV http://www.nzonair.govt.nz/search/funding/television/national-tv/?keyword=&date_from=2014-12-01&date_to=2015-09-01&broadcaster%5B%5D=Prime&s=1#results

Able “Captioning means for kiwis are able to access TV content” http://able.co.nz/news/entry/captioning-means-more-kiwis-are-able-to-access-tv-content

NZ Government “Captioning to be extended to Prime TV” http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PA1511/S00324/captioning-to-be-extended-to-prime-television.htm?utm_source=hootsuite

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  1. Pingback: New Zealand: Introducing Live TV Captioning of Rio2016 on Prime TV | We Need Words June 13, 2016

    […] What did the additional funding from NZ On Air pay for last year on Prime TV? A – The technology announced last year was for pre-recorded content only (ie not live […]

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