§ Dr. Howells
[holding answer Monday 10 June 2002]Statutory requirements for the provision of subtitling on Channel 3 and Channel 5, and for the provision of subtitling and sign language translation on digital terrestrial television (DTT) services are included in the 1990 and 1996 Broadcasting Acts respectively. The targets for DTT services are that 80 per cent. of programming should be subtitled and 5 per cent. signed by the tenth anniversary of the start of the service. The 1371W recently published draft Communications Bill (Cm 5508–1) extends these targets on DTT to digital cable and digital satellite channels.
In setting these targets, we have aimed to strike the right balance between practicability and benefit. It would be extremely difficult and expensive to meet 100 per cent. targets. In addition, there are a number of unresolved technical issues in the development of a reliable closed signing system, and resultant problems caused by open signing. We believe that the current targets are challenging but achievable, but will keep them under regular review.