Without legislation, there is no requirement to caption, and Broadcasters are choosing not to

Without legislation, there is no requirement to caption, and Broadcasters are choosing not to. In the specific case of Rugby World Cup TV coverage, accessibility with captioning has gone backwards.

In the run up to the Rugby World Cup, Parliament discussed and agreed to an extension of the “Sale and Supply of Alcohol (Extended licensing hours during Rugby World Cup) Bill”

Minister Adams, Minister of Justice (also Minister of Broadcasting) had this to say about the importance of Rugby & the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand.

There is no doubt in this House, I think, that we have a very unique situation here, which deserves a unique response. We have a tournament being played on the other side of the world, representing not only the third-largest sporting event in the world but also, more important for most New Zealanders, the game that I think New Zealand really considers its national game and that is featuring our own very much beloved All Blacks. Not everyone in this country is sports mad, but a vast majority of us are absolute, diehard All Blacks fans … and watching the All Blacks is something that I think New Zealanders really do regard as a critical part of being a New Zealander. Certainly, the Rugby World Cup comes around once every 4 years, and there can be no doubt that it has a special place in New Zealand—from both the attention it gets and our focus on it to the very mood you can feel on the streets as you walk around New Zealand, depending on whether the All Blacks have played well…” (12 August 2015)

The 2015 Rugby World Cup is here. Last night it was the lead story on TV One News occupying three segments, totalling almost 15 minutes of airtime. (The programme including extensive advertising breaks is 60 minutes).

The 2011 Rugby World Cup was staged in New Zealand. TVNZ screened 7 Rugby World Cup games with live captioning.

In 2010, the then Minister for Broadcasting (now Sports Minister) was asked if he would “ensure accessibility to Rugby World Cup television broadcasts for the deaf community by requiring captioning on all public channels and will he remind all broadcasters of their responsibility under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities?” The Minister replied that “TVNZ is the only New Zealand broadcaster that has the ability to carry out live captioning of matches.”

In 2015, the broadcast rights for Rugby World Cup coverage are owned by Sky Television (who own free to air Prime TV). The All Blacks games will be shown on Prime TV – great. But five years on, Prime still do not have the ability to caption, live or pre-recorded. There will be no coverage of 2015 Rugby World Cup with captioning.

When questioned in parliament in December 2014 about plans to introduce captioning regulation the current minister of Broadcasting replied “I am satisfied that there has been a significant increase in New Zealand levels of free to air captioning over the past decade including 100 percent of prime time content on TV One and TV 2 now being captioned”. [Prime time is considered 6pm – 10pm].

In 2015
• 256 hours of traditional TV are captioned each week (up from 240 hours in 2011, 250 hours in 2014)
• No news is captioned on any channel between 11pm and midday the next day. Just one channel offers news with captioning
• No news website including One News Now offers captioned video
• No TV on demand service provides captioning
• No Rugby World Cup TV commentary on our television screens will be caption accessible for deaf & hard of hearing New Zealanders

Without legislation, there is no requirement to caption, and Broadcasters are choosing not to. In the specific case of Rugby World Cup TV coverage, accessibility with captioning has gone backwards. 7 games live captioned in 2011. Zero games captioned in 2015 (live or delayed). It’s simply not good enough.

Article 30 of the United Nations Convention Rights of Persons with Disabilities covers Participation in cultural life, recreation, leisure & sport. (b) requires that people should be able to “Enjoy access to television programmes, films, theatre and other cultural activities in accessible formats”

This week is International Week of the Deaf. The President of the World Federation of the Deaf and the President of the International Federation of Hard of Hearing support the call for more captioning in New Zealand. Last year they called on “governments to ensure broadcasting access through the provision of captions…. In the dynamic digital world”

The New Zealand Captioning Working Group repeat our call for broadcast access with captioning.

Smiling at a television screen isn’t going to make closed captions appear
– Stella Young, April 2014

#CaptionitNZ

References

CaptionitNZ Blog 2014 “In 2011 it was 240 hours, in 2014 its 250 hours, hardly statistically significant

NZ Parliamentary QT, Question 11, 3 December 2014 (autocaptioned only)
NZ Parliament Sale and Supply of Alcohol (Extended licensing hours during Rugby World Cup) Bill — First Reading

New Zealand Herald Article Re Rugby World Cup Captioning

IFHOH & WFD Media Release August 2014

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  1. Pingback: The New Zealand Captioning Working Group Report | We Need Words September 30, 2015

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