This document sets out revised arrangements for signing on domestic TV channels with an audience share between 0.05% and 1% (‘relevant TV channels’). Ofcom’s decisions take account of responses to a consultation published in July last year. The revised arrangements will start from 1 January 2016.
In brief, broadcasters will be required to increase the amount of sign-presented programming shown on relevant TV channels over time, starting at 30 minutes a month from the first anniversary of the relevant date to 75 minutes from the tenth anniversary. The relevant date for the purpose of access services obligations is the later of the date the channel started broadcasting or 29 December 2003.
As an alternative, relevant channels may participate in alternative arrangements to provide sign-presented programming, provided that these have been approved by Ofcom, in the light of the Guidance it has published. In this case, the minimum contribution they must make will rise over time, and will be adjusted for inflation.
Most channels providing access services have been established for several years. Without transitional arrangements, they would face a steep increase in obligations from 1 January 2016. To avoid this, channels that have already reached the fourth anniversary of their relevant date by 1 January 2016 will be subject to more gradual increases, rising to the same maximum obligations over a number of years.
A plain English guide to Ofcom’s decisions is provided in the document here.