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apo-nid172936.pdf 321.09 KB
apo-nid172936.pdf 321.09 KB

Australian audiences have more viewing opportunities than ever before, choosing from a range of services including free-to-air (FTA) television, subscription television (STV), catch-up television, streaming services, subscription video on demand (SVOD) and user generated video. Australia’s FTA and STV broadcasters provide access to iconic cultural and sporting events, news, current affairs and entertainment, including Australian content. The sector plays an important role in reflecting and informing Australian cultural life.

Audio description (AD) provides greater access to video content for people who are blind or vision impaired, improving their understanding and enjoyment of television. AD is socially beneficial, promoting equality and independence, and contributing to the social inclusion of AD users and encouraging greater participation in society.

Audio-described content is currently available in Australia at major cinemas, on some DVDs and Blu-rays, and on selected online services, such as iTunes and the international streaming service, Netflix. Some audio-described children’s content is available via an app provided by Big Access Media (BAM). AD is also provided at some museums, galleries and theatre productions. Australian broadcasters and streaming services are not currently required to provide AD services under legislation.

There have been two government-funded AD trials conducted by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) on ABC1 in 2012 and on iview in 2015–16. Building on the success of these trials, the Minister for Communications and the Arts and the Assistant Minister for Social Services and Disability Services announced in April 2017 the formation of an Audio Description Working Group (ADWG) to examine options for increasing the availability of AD services in Australia.

The ADWG included representatives from consumer and vision groups, the FTA and STV industry, AD service providers and media accessibility researchers. The ADWG met four times from June to October of 2017 to discuss the matters outlined in the Terms of Reference. ADWG meetings were well attended by all stakeholder groups and a number of presentations were provided from guest speakers including representatives from Netflix and New Zealand AD provider, Able.

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