Thanks to over 6000 people who’ve taken action for the campaign, in May 2017 a law was passed promising Ofcom new powers to legally enforce subtitles on video-on-demand services. The campaign has also encouraged major TV subscription services to start rolling out on-demand subtitles.
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.
As of March 2017 Sky tells us that 90% of Catch-up, 91% of Sky Cinema, and 81% of Sky boxsets have subtitles, and it is currently working to improve the accessibility of NOW TV.
Similarly, BT has made a large financial investment into new technology to allow subtitles to be shown on its on-demand programmes. As direct result of the campaign, and the evidence you shared in Progress on Pause, BT started rolling out subtitles in late 2016, after trialling subtitles with our support. BT has now committed to subtitling at least 50% of all on-demand programming by late summer 2017.
Together, we've change 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 launched, legislation regarding subtitling provision was over 10 years out of date.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.
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 will carry out a consultation
The government will instruct 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.
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 proactively engage with Ofcom during their consultation process and 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.