Television and on-demand programme services: Access services report – January to December 2021

26 May 2022

This report sets out the extent to which broadcast television channels and on-demand programme services (ODPS) carried subtitles, audio description and/or signing (collectively, “access services”) in the full calendar year 2021.

The report allows consumers to compare the extent to which traditional broadcast television and catch-up or on-demand services are accessible to people with sight and/or hearing impairments.

In Autumn 2021, a number of broadcasters suffered significant disruption to their broadcast operations following an incident at Red Bee Media’s broadcast centre. This included the provision of access services across both linear channels and on-demand services. We discuss the disruption to access services on broadcasting services in more detail below.

The statutory rules for broadcast services are different to those for on-demand services. Under the Communications Act 2003, broadcast television channels are required to make a certain proportion of their programmes accessible; the Code on Television Access Services sets out these obligations.

On-demand (including catch-up) services are not currently under any statutory obligation to provide access services. However, they are encouraged to make their services progressively more accessible and Ofcom requires ODPS providers to submit data on accessibility for this purpose. The Digital Economy Act 2017 provides for Government to draft regulations imposing accessibility obligations on providers and Ofcom has made a series of recommendations (in December 2018 and July 2021) to inform these.

We are committed to ensuring that disabled people can, as far as possible, access television and on-demand services, enabling full participation in social and cultural life.

Interactive report

We have provided this report in an interactive format so that you can compare the accessibility of broadcast and on-demand services across a variety of platforms.

For the best experience, expand to full screen (click on the button in the bottom right corner).

The full data set is also available to download in CSV format.

If you have accessibility requirements which are not met by these publications, and would like to request this information in a different format, you can email or call our Advisory Team from Monday to Friday between 09:00 and 17:00 on 020 7981 3040 or 0300 123 3333. If you are deaf or speech-impaired, you can use our textphone numbers, which are 020 7981 3043 or 0300 123 2024.