TV access for people with hearing loss has vastly improved over the last few decades. But many programmes still remain unwatchable due to a lack of subtitles, poor quality subtitles and excessive background noise/music.
The way we watch TV has transformed over recent years – and it’s hard to remember a time before we streamed films or watched catch-up TV. That’s why our Subtitle it! campaign is currently focused on improving access to subtitles on video-on-demand content.
Thanks to over 6,000 people who've taken action for the campaign, in April 2017 parliament changed the law to give Ofcom new powers to legally enforce subtitles on video-on-demand services.
Ofcom consulted on what the regulations for on-demand content should look like and made recommendations to the government proposing that 40% of content should be subtitled within two years of the legislation coming into force, increasing to 80% after four years. We welcomed these proposals.
At the end of 2019 the Government announced that Ofcom would be consulting once again, this time to help establish specific parameters for the legislation. This announcement said that the consultation was due to start in March 2020 and would last for between twelve and sixteen weeks, but we don’t yet know how this timetable will change. This means that the recommendations made by Ofcom are unlikely to come into force until 2021.
We will be responding to the consultation and we will keep pushing for progress after it ends. We may ask for your help again, to ensure that the exciting developments we have seen so far are transformed into solid improvements for subtitle users.