The Broadcasting Act 1990, Section 35, requires Channel 3 licensees to provide minimum amounts of subtitling for deaf and hard-of-hearing people and to attain such technical standards in the provision of subtitling as the ITC specifies. These requirements are reflected in the licences.
This document provides guidance on the technical standards which are to be attained in the production and presentation of “closed” subtitles. It does not apply to “open” or “in-vision” captions. The guidance has been drawn from the experience gained in the production and usage of subtitles since the early 1980s. Much of the detail has been taken from an earlier handbook produced by the Independent Broadcasting Authority following research conducted at Southampton University. The ITC is grateful to the authors of that handbook for updating their work and for giving permission to use it. Further information on the use of subtitles has also been included as a result of a research project conducted on behalf of the ITC and BBC during 1990 and 1991 by Bristol University and the ITC research into Subtitling for Deaf Children 1996.
This document has been revised to take account of digital television services and acquired programmes. Further amendments may follow in the light of new techniques becoming available. In this respect investigative work is being conducted in the fields of veiling (see paragraph 5.9) and use of colours.
To assist licensees and others reading this document, the specific rules and main points of guidance have been printed in bold type. These, however, cannot be properly understood in isolation from the rest of the text. Licensees are urged, therefore, to study the entire document carefully.
The technical standards for subtitle transmission are covered separately by the ITC Technical Performance Code. The current UK standard for subtitle transmissions via teletext is ITU-R (CCIR) Teletext System B.