With your help, we’ve influenced broadcasters.
When we launched Subtitle it! in June 2015, Sky, the UK’s biggest paid-for TV provider, subtitled just 4% of its on-demand content. We worked with deaf teenager Jamie Danjoux to promote his Change.org petition calling on Sky TV to add subtitles to its on-demand services, and in summer 2015 Sky made a public commitment to take action. In 2016 we recruited subtitle users to Sky’s subtitle trials, and by September 2016 Sky started to roll out subtitles.
We’ve worked with other providers to encourage them to drive up levels of subtitles resulting in providers such as BT committing to the investment of technology to allow subtitles to be shown on its on demand programmes.
You can view up to date information about the level of subtitles across all on-demand and catch up TV platforms and broadcasters using Ofcom’s interactive data tool here.
Together, we've changed the law!
When Subtitle it! launched, legislation regarding subtitling provision was over 10 years out of date. This meant that while there were quotas for providing subtitles on ‘traditional’ TV, no such legislation existed for video-on-demand. Our campaign was determined to change this.
With your support, we pursued a number of important opportunities to influence the government to bring about change through 2015 and 2016, including a government review about on-demand subtitling, a Private Members’ Bill tabled by Lilian Greenwood MP and the passage of the Digital Economy Bill. Over 6,000 of you influenced parliament by writing to two consecutive Digital Ministers and your MP, which led to 70 MPs from across the political spectrum signing up to publically back Subtitle it.
Well, we did it! In early 2017 the Digital Economy Bill was successfully amended to promise new powers to the regulator of TV, Ofcom, to set on-demand subtitle quotas for broadcasters. In April 2017 this bill became The Digital Economy Act.
You won’t see the changes straight away, but rest assured we’ll be keeping a very close eye on progress. Here’s an outline of what we expect to happen now:
Ofcom are carrying out a consultation
The government have instructed Ofcom to carry out a consultation on the development of a new code that will lay out the quotas for the amount of on-demand content that must carry subtitles. Thank you to thousands of you who inputted into our consultation response to Ofcom. We called for TV providers to move towards fully accessible content for those who are deaf or have hearing loss. Read our response and press release here.
Ofcom will report back
Ofcom will report back to government and make recommendations on the details of the code.
Parliament will enshrine the new code in law
The government will draft the regulation necessary for the code to take effect. Parliament will need to pass these regulations, with MPs and Peers being asked to signal their consent to the government’s proposals.
The new law will take effect
It’s possible that progress could be gradual, as the government may choose to give industry a period of notice before the requirement takes affect or have a phased introduction, whereby the quotas for subtitled content are raised gradually over a period of years.
We will continue to proactively engage with Ofcom throughout their consultation process and after, to make the case for them to create a robust code which quickly drives up the amount of on-demand content with subtitles.
Thank you to everyone who has taken action for Subtitle it! so far. We may be asking for your help again soon to ensure that this exciting development is transformed into solid improvements for subtitle users.