Australian free-to-air television stations are required by law to caption all news and current affairs programs and all programs broadcast during prime time (6pm – 10.30pm). There is no legislation covering TV commercials, which are captioned at the discretion of advertisers.
In order to gain an insight into the level of captioning on Australian TV commercials, MAA conducted a survey over 28 days, from 1/1/07 to 28/1/07. The Sydney transmissions of the Seven, Nine and Ten networks, and of SBS, were monitored on a rotating basis (i.e. 7 nights were monitored for each station during the survey period). The results were as follows:
The figure of 30% for the percentage of total commercials captioned is 8% less than the figure obtained in MAA’s previous survey, which looked at commercials shown between 7/10/06 and 3/11/06. The full results of that survey were:
MEDIA ACCESS IN NEW ZEALAND
It is estimated that there are currently 400,000 Deaf or hearing impaired people in New Zealand, a figure in line with other Western countries. Lobbying for access to television for them began in the 1960s, and was given a boost in 1978 when the country’s Quota clubs collected 19,000 signatures on a petition asking Parliament to introduce captioning. TV New Zealand screened the first captioned TV program, News Review, a 15-minute news program which was shown with open captions. (Later, a 30-minute version of the same program was aired with a NZ Sign Language presenter).
In 1981 (the International Year of the Disabled) a telethon raised $5 million for disabled people. Some of this money was used to set up a teletext service. (Unlike Australia, the UK and other countries, New Zealand introduced teletext specifically as a national information service for the disabled, although it has since expanded into other areas). Rehabilitation International (NZ) worked with Phillips NZ to manufacture Teletext televisions, and decoders which could be connected to existing televisions, were also made available. The service began in 1984, although initially only 1–2 hours of captioned programs were broadcast each week.
In 1991, following the completion of a survey into the TV preferences of the Deaf, NZ On Air allocated $1 million to service the television needs of the Deaf and hearing impaired. About half of this was used to maintain the teletext service, while the other half was used to buy captioning equipment and caption files from overseas caption producers.
NZ On Air, a government body which aims to foster and promote New Zealand culture on television and radio, continues to fund captioning on the government-owned networks TV One and TV2, and the commercial network TV3. Captioning is currently limited to these three channels as they are the only ones capable of transmitting teletext. Approximately 165 hours of captioned programs are broadcast each week, and there is an agreement that, between 6pm and 10pm every evening there must be a captioned program broadcast on at least one of the three channels at any given time. All captions are supplied by TVNZ Captioning.
Programs regularly captioned in New Zealand include:
TV ONE: One News, Midday News, Tonight, Te Karere, Coronation Street, Emmerdale.
As part of Deafness Awareness Week in September 2006, the New Zealand government introduced a ‘Voluntary Code for the Captioning of Government Television Advertising’, which strongly advises that government departments (with some exceptions such as the armed forces) caption all their TV advertisements. Those that adhere to this policy receive a 15% discount on the cost of captioning (with further discounts negotiable depending on the volume of work). The cost of captioning a commercial is estimated at NZ$450-$550 + GST. Government agencies that adhere to the policy have the use of the Captioning logo, demonstrating their commitment to the Deaf and hearing impaired.
Some major brands, including Telecom and Sanitarium, also caption their TV commercials, though overall there is less captioning of commercials than in Australia.
Cinema captioning in New Zealand began in 1972, following a complaint made by a Deaf man to the Human Rights Commission the previous year. The first captioned screenings were of the first Lord of the Rings film. There are cinemas with the DTS system (which enables films to be screened with captions and audio description) in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. Captioning Access New Zealand promotes the captioning of cinema and other media. Their website may be found at http://www.captionmovies.co.nz/index.php
As in Australia, audio description in New Zealand is essentially limited to DVDs and some theatrical performances. A leader here is the Fortune Theatre in Dunedin, which launched a program called ‘Access All Areas’ in 2006. The program included signed and audio described performances, as well as costume ‘touch tours’ for the blind.
New Zealand is part of the Australian DVD distribution system, which means that the bulk of DVDs released there are produced in Australia. While not all the DVDs released here have a New Zealand release, those that do will therefore have the same level of access as the Australian versions for both audio description and captioning.