Ofcom publishes recommendations on making on-demand programme services accessible

Ofcom has published recommendations to Government on the potential form of new regulations to make video-on-demand programmes more accessible to people with hearing or sight impairments.

Many people with these impairments rely on subtitles, signing or audio description, collectively known as “access services” to enjoy television.

The Digital Economy Act 2017 paved the way for new requirements that on-demand services be made accessible.

Ofcom is recommending that the new regulations for on-demand providers are similar to those that already exist for traditional, linear broadcasters. This means that video-on-demand providers would have to offer subtitling on at least 80% of their programmes; audio description on at least 10%; and signing on at least 5%. Ofcom is recommending some exemptions from these targets based on affordability, audience benefit, and technical difficulty.

Ofcom also proposes that video-on-demand providers should report on how they have met these requirements and on their plans to keep improving accessibility. Ofcom has submitted these, and other recommendations, to the Secretary of State to help inform the Government’s drafting of new Regulations.

Subject to the new Regulations being made, Ofcom says that it expects to consult on a new Code of Practice giving guidance to providers on meeting the new accessibility requirements. To read Ofcom’s statement in full, click here.