Howzat allowed to happen? Deaf & Hard of Hearing New Zealanders miss out on Cricket World Cup Coverage

It’s billed as one of the biggest sporting events in the world. The politicians of all parties have taken to social media to say its great for the country and to wish the NZ team good luck. The media are full of it. Flags are flying all over the country. Two really great sporting nations, Australia & New Zealand co-host the world class Cricket World Cup.

Wellington Crowd

If Friday’s New Zealand Black Caps performance against England is anything to go on, we might even take the cup!

The New Zealand opening ceremony broadcast live from Hagley Park Christchurch on Sky Sport, as well as free-to-air on Prime. The New Zealand games are shown on Prime, and most others on Sky Sport.

However, unlike our Australian counterparts (and the English who woke to the bad result on Friday morning), Sky & Prime’s coverage does not air with closed captioning. The coverage, on TV and online is inaccessible to many thousands of New Zealanders who rely on closed captioning to see what people say.

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So howzat allowed to happen? Australia have legislation in place to require captioned coverage including channel Nines main channel. New Zealand does not. Research shows that until legislation is enacted, Broadcasters will not introduce a reasonable rate of captioning.

In Australia since the advent of legislation, captioning levels have increased significantly. Last week an Australian senate committee report on the proposed changes to the “Broadcasting and Other Legislation Amendment (Deregulation) Bill 2014” stated ‘The Communications Department commented that captioning obligations for the free-to-air television sector have gradually increased such that it is now required to provide 100 per cent captioning from 6 am to midnight on primary channels and for news or current affairs programs transmitted on primary channels at any time’. New Zealand has no such requirement in place and captioning is at the mercy of New Zealand on Air funding or an individual broadcasters captioning ability or choice.

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The explosion of On-Demand and subscription services in New Zealand only serves to underline the issue of lack of captioning accessibility. The accessibility gap is widening. TVNZ On Demand launched their new App on Friday. It does not caption. The new NEON service from Sky doesn’t. Spark’s Lightbox does not. However in a glimmer of hope, it is expected Netflix NZ will caption when they launch next month.

In the meantime and without commitment from individual Broadcasters and other media companies to start or increase the level of captioning on TV and online, and/or a commitment from the Government to legislate, just as was for the 2014 Commonwealth Games, Hard of Hearing & Deaf New Zealanders are left out. Will there be captioning for Rio 2016?

Consider our appeal registered. Howzat!

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1. Closed captioning enables viewers who are Deaf or Hard of hearing to select an option to display in text form the spoken word or lyrics of characters or narrators, commentators. Additional audio is also captioned, such as “Door closing” or “crowd cheers”.

2. Australian Parliament Broadcasting Deregulation Report

3. Commonwealth Games Coverage

4. In The House Video Feb 12, 2015 re Q5 Cricket World Cup (Autocaptioning is unreliable)

5. Hansard Transcript Feb 12, 2015 re Q5 Cricket World Cup.

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