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Volume 670: debated on Wednesday 2 March 2005

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asked Her Majesty's Government:What are the obligations for subtitling programmes on all television channels; and to what extent these have been carried out since they were imposed. [HL1360]

The detailed obligations for subtitling are set by Ofcom, within the framework established by the Communications Act 2003, and are set out in its code on television access services. I am arranging for copies of that code to be placed in the Libraries of both Houses. Monitoring of compliance with those obligations is also the responsibility of Ofcom and the code requires relevant broadcasters to submit quarterly returns covering quarters starting from 1 January 2005: the first quarterly returns are therefore not yet due.

asked Her Majesty's Government:What representations they are making to the British Broadcasting Corporation about its parliamentary channel covering parliamentary proceedings not being subtitled. [HL1361]

None, although we have stated in the Charter review Green Paper that the BBC should continue to promote the development of practical ways of increasing the enjoyment of all its publicly funded services by people with sensory impairments.Under the current BBC agreement, the corporation must observe the Ofcom code on television access services, subject to the exclusions set out in Section 303(8) of the Act. The audience share of BBC Parliament is well below the level set by Ofcom as the threshold at which access obligations arise. However, some of BBC Parliament's output is subtitled by the BBC on a voluntary basis. Major parliamentary occasions are also shown on other BBC channels which are subtitled.