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Digital Terrestrial Tv: Subtitling

Volume 622: debated on Wednesday 28 February 2001

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asked Her Majesty's Government:On what basis the Department for Culture, Media and Sport in its January report on the review of the statutory requirements for the provision of subtitling, signing and audio-description stated that "there are doubts about the feasibility of 100 per cent provision" of subtitling on digital terrestrial television channels, given the BBC's commitment to subtitle 100 per cent of its own digital terrestrial television output by the 10th anniversary of the start of the service and the rapid development of voice recognition technology for subtitling. [HL816]

We need to strike the right balance between practicability and benefit. During the consultation exercise that preceded the Government's recent announcement of the review, concerns were expressed, including by the Independent Television Commission (ITC), that 100 per cent subtitling on digital terrestrial television (DTT) was not a feasible target. It would be extremely difficult and expensive to subtitle all live programmes, late-running programmes and late-delivered material, such as promotions between programmes. There is also a danger that the financial costs to the smaller channels might result in them leaving the DTT platform. The 80 per cent target is challenging but achievable and is in line with the analogue target for 2004. We will, however, keep the target under review, and if an increase beyond 80 per cent is deemed achievable in the future, we will consider raising the target.