HC Deb 13 June 2002 vol 386 cc1370-1W
Mr. Gray

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what plans she has to introduce for full TV licence fee payers the opportunity to receive a full service with the option of(a) 100 per cent. subtitling and (b) British Sign Language translation. [60109]

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 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.

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