We love audio description: UK broadcasters

Post date: 
Thursday, 17 April 2014
TV, Radio and Film

2014 has been a fantastic year for audio description (AD) users in the UK with television channels broadcasting more than 6000 programmes with AD each week.

Audio description on TV

Seventy-two UK TV television channels have met or exceeded their access service requirements in 2014; many have done considerably more than required.  

As per the Television Access Services Report published by the UK communications regulator Ofcom, in the first six months of 2014:

  • Channel 4 delivered AD on 28.1 per cent of its content
  • Sky one delivered AD on 30.0 per cent of its content
  • ITV 1 delivered AD on 20.2 per cent of its content
  • BBC1 delivered AD on 21.2 per cent of its content
  • Five delivered AD on 14.3 per cent of its content

Out of the 72 channels that delivered AD during this period, twenty-one channels exceeded the 30 per cent mark. Alibi, Sky Movies Showcase and E4 described more than 40 per cent of their content.

RNIB have worked with the broadcasters, Ofcom and end users to ensure that provision and take-up of AD increases exponentially with each year. The journey that began almost a decade ago with AD being trialled on analogue television, has come a long way today and transformed the way people with sight loss watch television.

The complete report on television access services can be found on the Ofcom website

Tags TV Radio and Film

What about catch-up / on demand TV?

We know that these days many people watch TV that is not broadcast live: so-called “on-demand” or catch-up TV services.

Many people are now watching TV on devices such as smart phones, games consoles and tablets, too.

Blind and partially sighted people are just as likely as others to want to watch on-demand TV and to do so using these devices.

However, there is currently very little audio description available for on-demand TV and no regulation to deliver it.

RNIB has been working with our friends in Action on Hearing Loss and SENSE to improve the situation, and speaking to broadcasters, regulators and the Government about the matter.

In 2013 the Government told us it would wait three years before possibly imposing quotas for audio description for on-demand TV. This period ends in the summer of 2016. With our fellow organisations, we have therefore just published this document explaining what progress we think it is reasonable to expect over the next year leading up to the end of the three-year period.

We’ll keep pushing for more AD in the meantime. Watch this space to see how we get on, and for suggestions about how you might support us. 

Tags TV Radio and Film

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