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Media Bill passes and becomes the Media Act 2024!

Along with the tireless dedication of our campaigners, RNID is elated to see that the Media Bill (now called the Media Act 2024) has finally been passed with binding quotas for the provision of access services including subtitles and signed content set out in legislation. 

We are one step closer to deaf people and people with hearing loss having equal access to on-demand programming. Without subtitles and signing on TV programmes, deaf people are excluded from watching television on demand and cannot share in important cultural and informative programmes.  

What does the Media Act 2024 do?  

The Act obligates the media regulator Ofcom to prepare and publish an accessibility code for tier 1 Services, which must include minimum quotas for the provision of subtitles, signing and audio description for tier 1 on-demand services.  

This means that the major service providers of on-demand TV content will have to ensure that when the quotas are enacted that they deliver at least the following provision:  

  • 80% of programming must be subtitled  
  • 10% must be audio described and 
  • 5% must be either presented in or translated into sign language.  

Background of the campaign  

Since 2015, RNID have been campaigning for on-demand television services, such as ITVX and Disney Plus, to be obligated to provide a minimum amount of subtitles, signing and audio description.  

In 2018, the Digital Media Act was passed which set out the Government’s intention to introduce binding targets, but since then we have waited for secondary legislation to set out the quotas and to give Ofcom the power to enforce them.  

In partnership with RNIB, 25,000 of our supporters signed our petition to call on the Government to take action and enact binding targets in 2022, which helped to push the Government to include the binding quotas in the draft Media Bill in 2023. 

What happens next?  

The Government will have to publish a list of the services which are going to fall under the Tier 1 category of on-demand services to confirm which services will have to deliver the quotas.  

Ofcom will be tasked with writing up the Accessibility Code for Tier 1 on-demand services and consulting with stakeholders to ensure that it meets the interests of people with disabilities.  

Once the code is published and the tier 1 services are announced, there will be a four year wait until the quotas are fully implemented; however, RNID do not think that on-demand services should wait to take action to improve their provision of access services.  

We will continue to push on-demand services to meet the quotas across all platforms ahead of the deadline so that deaf people and people with hearing loss don’t have to wait any longer.  

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Stay up to date with RNID’s Subtitle It! Campaign and find out how you can get involved in making change happen by signing up to our Campaigns Network.
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