Captioned Global Internet TV. Yes We Want It! – In a challenging digital environment” its about “content, content, content, content. “We should be blind to how its delivered as long as its produced and got out there and kiwis can access it”

Have you seen the latest NZ Herald article about TVNZ and Sky banning Slingshots Global Mode advertisements?

In New Zealand, all ISPs except for Slingshot at present block global internet television services such as Netflix, Hulu and BBC1, and this hits the Deaf and Hard of Hearing communities the hardest. The services that are blocked, caption their content by law in their respective countries. In comparison, because there is no law for captioning in New Zealand, Free to Air and Commercial Broadcasters don’t caption much content at all. (21% free to air and even less on Commercial stations). Unblocking these services has meant that any Deaf or Hard of Hearing slingshot customers can finally access captioned content on any of these internet television platforms. I know that Netflix captions a very high proportion of their service because in America the Deaf Association took them to court and sued them…. And won.

Broadcasters here need to lift their game by providing more captions and offer more timely content. The amount of Deaf/HOH people in NZ is not insignificant either – 700,000. They are foolish not to take our numbers seriously. One of the reasons our community download content is because there is NO OTHER WAY to gain access to captioned content. I can think of four major TV series that the community want access to: Extant, Under the Dome, Game of Thrones, and the new Outlander series. All on Prime or Sky – and unable to be accessed at all with captions. Three of these series are available on Netflix. Captioned. The other only available on Sky.

In my opinion, with Sky, TVNZ and TV3 banning this advertisement, they are only trying to flex their muscle and protect their patch. However, by banning the advertisement, they have served to give Slingshot more coverage, which I’m sure they were trying to avoid. I do believe NZ Broadcasters need to think up new ways to attract competition as this is the age of the internet, and the old ways of doing business are changing by the minute. The Internet TV services in question – Netflix, Hulu and BBC1 have been in business for a long time overseas and are viable businesses that are not being closed down anytime soon, rather they are the face of the future. It’s not about the same old companies providing the same level of service, it’s about the same old companies, developing a business platform that the people want and are willing to pay for. These days with iPads, tablets, and smartphones, people want access over the internet. It’s part of the instant gratification generation – we want it and we want it now. I don’t see that changing, rather I see that becoming the norm and businesses need to adapt quickly, or face losing customers, and with it, their profits.

My loyalty towards the New Zealand Television Broadcasters and those providing On Demand services over the internet are waning. Purely because of their stance on captioning. Particularly on their On demand services where they cry that it’s too hard, too complicated, too expensive, or just simply can’t be done. That just doesn’t wash with me. If it’s done overseas as a matter of course because of law, then of course it can be done here in New Zealand. Telecoms new company ‘lightbox’ which provides internet TV has also refused to caption. Sky’s new on demand service when asked if it would caption only say they don’t know. Which probably means no!

Netflix is apparently coming to New Zealand in 2015, although this hasn’t been confirmed. With any luck, it’ll use the same platform as the USA and provide captions. It’ll only be luck though if they do, because of the governments insane stance of not bringing in leglislation in the Broadcasting and Telecommunication Acts to make captioning mandatory like they have in other countries that take captioning seriously including but not limited to Australia, UK, US, Canada.

It is obvious that TVNZ and Sky are worried when they start banning advertisements to protect their patch, but in the end it only shows that they are deeply entrenched in doing things the same old way and not propelling themselves into the 21st century. A 21st century that includes captioning for the 1 in 6 New Zealanders that are Deaf or Hard of Hearing.

I will close on a quote from a speech by Craig Foss back on 21st May 2014…

In a challenging digital environment” its about “content, content, content, content. We should be blind to how its delivered as long as its produced and got out there and kiwis can access it. (Hon Craig Foss 21 May 2014 Post Budget Speech).

For once I agree with Craig Foss. Captioned access on TV, On Demand and On the web is what it is all about.

See an Index of all our Captioning Blogs here.