Television and on-demand programme services: Access services report Jan to June 2021

Published: 19 October 2022
Last updated: 16 March 2023

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

This report sets out the extent to which broadcast television channels carried subtitles, audio description and signing (collectively, “access services”) in January to June 2021.

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.

At time of publication of this report, there has been significant disruption to the provision of access services on a number of channels following an incident at Red Bee Media’s broadcast centre in West London on 25 September 2021. Ofcom is extremely concerned about these issues and is in direct contact with the impacted broadcasters to seek clarity about when these services will be fully restored. We will report on the impact of these issues on relevant broadcasters’ level of provision against their annual quotas in early 2022. We will then consider any appropriate regulatory response.

In the first half of 2021, channels continued to meet or exceed their requirements to provide access services.

Domestic channels with an audience share of between 0.05% and 1% have the option either to broadcast 65 minutes of sign-presented programming each month or to participate in Ofcom-approved alternative arrangements which contribute to the availability of sign-presented programming. Where "BSLBT Contribution" is shown in the report, this indicates that the broadcaster contributed to the British Sign Language Broadcasting Trust (BSLBT), which commissions sign-presented programming and is broadcast on the channels Film4 and Together.

Where “Exempt” is marked in the report, this indicates that these channels are exempt from providing audio description. This is due to the nature of the content broadcast on these services meaning there is little space within the audio material to provide audio description.

Following the end of the Brexit transition period, none of the non-domestic broadcasters that previously had a requirement to provide access services remain licensed with Ofcom.

The interactive report does not include information on the accessibility of on-demand programme services (“ODPS”) in the first half of 2021.  This year, in response to resource pressures on providers caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, we will be collecting ODPS data at the end of the year only. This data will be published in our full year report in early 2022 and will include data on the whole of the calendar year 2021.

The collection of this information is one way in which we fulfil our statutory duty under section 368C(2) of the Communications Act 2003 to encourage ODPS providers to ensure that their services are progressively made more accessible to people with disabilities affecting their sight or hearing or both.  In July this year we made a second set of recommendations to Government on making the accessibility of on-demand services a legal requirement.

Full interactive report

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

We have provided this report in an interactive form so that consumers can compare the accessibility provided by different channels. In addition to the report we have provided excel spreadsheets containing the full data set. If you have accessibility requirements which are not met by these publications, and would like to request 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.

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