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Captioning should be required for funding, says committee

08 August 2017

Parliament's Government Administration Committee recommends that the provision of captioning content should be a requirement for NZ On Air and Film Commission funding.

The committee has reported on its Inquiry into captioning in New Zealand. The committee also recommends that further progress be made in improving captioning access, including all platforms from broadcast to online content, and film screenings.

It says the inquiry was initiated because New Zealand compares unfavourably with other countries in its levels of captioning for television content, DVDs and movie screenings. It saw its investigation as consistent with New Zealand's obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

"Captioning" is the text version of speech and other sound that can be provided on television, DVDs, online videos, and at cinemas and theatres. Captions are similar to subtitles, but the text is in the same language as the spoken audio.

Captioning for free-to-air broadcasters in New Zealand is provided by Able, a media access charitable trust that receives $2.8 million per year from NZ On Air for captioning and audio description services. NZ On Air and Able agree on minimum captioning requirements across channels and the prioritisation of certain kinds of content.

In the year to 30 June 2016, 56% of TVNZ 1 content had captioning, 73% of TVNZ 2, 30% of Three, and 9% of Prime. Closed captioning was available on 28 Sky television channels.

Considering how change could be effected, the report says a common captioning funding model internationally is that broadcasters are legally required to fund the delivery of broadcast media. Broadcasters ensure the provision of free-to-air and commercial television programmes, movies, videos, live and pre-recorded sports, and other events, through their profiles.

Last updated on the 16th September 2019