TV content regulation

TV captioning rules: ACMA calls for submissions

The Australian Communications and Media Authority has begun a review of the captioning rules for television broadcasters. It is calling for public submissions to a consultation paper, released today.

The captioning rules for television broadcasters are set out in the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 (BSA) and include:

  • targets for the amount of programming that must be captioned
  • reporting and record-keeping requirements
  • exemptions from captioning requirements
  • requirements about quality set out in the Captioning Standard.

The BSA also requires the ACMA to conduct the review before 31 December 2016 and to provide a report to the Minister before 30 June 2017.

‘The captioning of Australian television broadcasts is essential for many Australians, and the ACMA encourages all interested parties to make a submission to the review,’ said ACMA acting Chairman Richard Bean.

Information about how to make a submission is available here.

Submissions are due COB Friday 22 July 2016.

For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact: Emma Rossi, Media Manager, (02) 9334 7719, 0434 652 063 or

Media release 27/1016 - 8 June 


Captioning legislation

Captioning rules for free-to-air commercial television broadcasting licensees and national television broadcasters (free-to-air television broadcasters) and subscription television broadcasters and narrowcasters (subscription television licensees) are set out in Part 9D of the BSA.

Free-to-air television broadcasters are required to caption:

  • 100 per cent of programs broadcast between 6 am and midnight on their primary channels
  • all news and current affairs programs broadcast at any time on their primary channels.

Free-to-air television’s captioning obligations are summarised here.

Subscription television licensees are gradually moving towards a requirement to caption 100 per cent of programs in a 24 hour period. There are nine different categories of subscription television services and each has a different annual captioning target. These targets increase by five per cent each year until the target reaches 100 per cent. For example:

  • for 2015–16, the annual target for category ‘A’ movie services is 80 per cent. This target will reach 100 per cent by 2019
  • for 2015–16 the annual target for sports services is 20 per cent. This target will reach 100 per cent by 2031.

Subscription television’s captioning obligations are summarised here.

Other captioning rules include:

  • a framework for a standard relating to the quality of captions
  • requirements relating to the broadcast of emergency warnings
  • exceptions and exemptions to complying with captioning obligations
  • annual reporting and record keeping requirements.

Requirement for a review

Part 9D of the BSA requires the ACMA to conduct a review of the operation of captioning obligations and associated licence conditions at Schedule 2 to the BSA (the ACMA statutory review).

The terms of the ACMA statutory review are set out in section 130ZZE of the BSA:

  1. Before 31 December 2016, the ACMA must conduct a review of   the following matters:
    1. the operation of this Part
    2. whether this Part should be amended
    3. the operation of paragraph 7(1)(o) of Schedule 2
    4. whether paragraph 7(1)(o) of Schedule 2 should be amended
    5. the operation of paragraph 10(1)(eb) of Schedule 2
    6. whether paragraph 10(1)(eb) of Schedule 2 should be amended
    7. the operation of paragraph 11(1)(bc) of Schedule 2
    8. whether paragraph 11(1)(bc) of Schedule 2 should be amended.


  1. In conducting the review, the ACMA must make provision for    public consultation.


  1. The ACMA must give the Minister a report of the review before   30 June 2017.
  2. The Minister must cause copies of a report under subsection (3) to   be tabled in each House of the Parliament within 15 sittings days of that House after receiving the report.

Terms 1(a) and (b) refer to the operation of the Part 9D rules.

Terms 1(c) to (h) refer to compliance with Part 9D being a licence condition for commercial and subscription television broadcasting licensees and broadcasting services provided under a class licence (relevantly subscription television narrowcasters).

Last updated: 16 March 2017

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