Today, the long-awaited Draft Media Bill, which requires streaming services to provide subtitles, audio description and signing, has been published by the Department for Culture, Media and Support. Once passed, streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime and Disney+ could be fined up to £250,000 if they are found to have broken rules.
This is said to bring streaming services more in-line to UK broadcasters that have been following rules and regulations by Ofcom around harmful material for decades. This means that high quality content that projects British values will be made more accessible for audiences globally.
Culture secretary Lucy Frazer said: “Our Bill will give these brilliant broadcasters and our legendary radio industry the tools to keep doing what they do best – nurturing the creative talent and skills that fuel the UK’s booming production industry, whilst making outstanding shows that we can all enjoy.”
The use of subtitles, audio description and sign language translation work in tandem to provide an equal viewing experience for all audiences and are essential in making media accessible for those with hearing and vision loss. For the first time, video-on-demand services will have to provide subtitles on 80 per cent of their programmes, while 10 per cent must have audio description and 5 per cent signed interpretation. This will make programmes more accessible for those who are Deaf or have hearing loss.
Involve Interpreter strongly supports providing signed interpretation for media whenever possible, and we hope this bill will deliver significant progress in making media more accessible to the Deaf community.