Happy Birthday Able & Captions Coming to Prime TV!

Last night several members of the New Zealand Captioning Working Group attended the second birthday celebration for Able hosted by Broadcasting Minister, Amy Adams at Parliament.

The Minister was quick to point out the lack of a birthday cake, however there was better news for caption fans!

Broadcasting Minister Amy Adams announced that captioning will be available on some Prime Television content with a focus on “on local, New Zealand on Air (NZOA) funded and prime time content”.

“It’s great to see content providers taking the lead. Extending captioning services to Prime will greatly assist deaf and hard of hearing New Zealanders to access the television content that most of us take for granted,” said Ms Adams.

Sky television announced that they have “invested in equipment to enable the broadcast of captions on pre-recorded content screening on its free-to-air channel Prime. NZ On Air-funded funded shows, including Decades In Colour, The Crayfishers, Forensics and Shearing Gang, will be captioned along with other prime time shows.”

SKY spokeswoman Kirsty Way said: “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.”

Further announcements on captioned programmes and launch times will be made in early 2016. A possible start date of February was suggested.

Image Description – Jane Wrightson, CEO NZ On Air speaks standing centre of picture. To her left a large screen with live captioning which reads ‘On Air has supported and developed. For over 25 years we have listened and learned from great representation by and useful information from the hearing and sight impaired communities. We thank the advocates from these communities for”. A NZSL interpreter stands to her right.

NZ On Air Chief Executive, Jane Wrightson, also spoke of the ongoing commitment to captioning and audio description and thanked the advocates from both communities for their support. NZ On Air are now actively promoting the addition of good captions to content published on Youtube made with NZ On Air funding.

Image Description – 5 people stand in front of a sign from Able. The sign reads “Making Media Accessible” and shows the closed captioning symbol used in New Zealand, an ear with a diagonal line through it. People in the picture from left to right, David Kent CWG member, Louise Carroll CWG Chair, Wendy Youens CEO Able Trust, Robyn Carter CWG Member, Jane Wrightson CEO NZ On Air

Chair of the Able Media Trust Mattie Wall commented that many caption users were not deaf or hard of hearing but English as a second language user.

Wendy Youens, the CEO of Able, was clearly thrilled with the news of captions for Prime and was quick to credit the hard work of her small but nimble team of captioners and audio describers for their commitment to media accessibility since Able was established two years ago when these services moved out from the Television New Zealand umbrella. We too congratulate Able on a very successful two years.

Also attending the birthday celebration was Nicky Wagner, Minister for Disabilities, MP Ruth Dyson & MP Clare Curran of NZ Labour. Green Party MP, Mojo Mathers is presently overseas.

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 -> Sign here..


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.

Q – How much content will be captioned on Prime TV?
A – The New Zealand Captioning Working Group understand this will be 10 hours per 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. Sky television have made an investment in equipment to enable pre-recorded shows to carry captions.

Q – Will this technology solve the Rugby World Cup captioning issue?
A – No, the technology is to support pre-recorded content only, not live content.

Q – What is prime time and is it relevant in the digital era?
A – 6pm – 10pm on linear TV. No NZ on demand or catch up TV service (like TVNZ On Demand) offers captioning. Netflix offers captions.


NZ On Air Funding for PrimeTV

“Key local content to be captioned on Prime from 2016”

Able “Captioning means for kiwis are able to access TV content”

Deaf Aotearoa “Welcomes Captioning Increase”

Throng “Captions on Prime”

Throng “Captions on Prime” – Twitter

Sign the petition

History of Captioning Working Group

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