RNIB calls for legislation as report reveals low level of audio description for on-demand TV

RNIB LogoLeading sight loss charity RNIB (Royal National Institute of Blind People) is calling for Government legislation to help tackle the issue of a lack of audio description for on-demand services.

The call follows the publication of the annual report by ATVOD, the regulator for on-demand TV services, looking at levels of audio description and other access services for disabled TV viewers (such as subtitling and sign language).

The ATVOD report shows that the amount of audio description on catch-up TV remains unacceptably tiny.  Only four services offer any audio description and one of these is only providing audio description on 0.4% of its output.

RNIB believes that the lack of a legal requirement is behind the continuing low level of audio description on on-demand TV services. Regulated, broadcast TV enjoys audio description levels of some 20 per cent on the main channels.

Steve Tyler, Head of Solutions, Strategy and Planning at RNIB said: “It is high time that the Government legislated to require audio description for on-demand TV services, just like it did some years ago for broadcast TV.

“To the frustrated viewer there is no logic to there being audio description on a programme being broadcast tonight at 7pm, and yet none for that same programme if they try to watch it on catch-up TV the next day.

“The Government said in 2013 that it would consider legislating as of 2016, if on-demand TV had not become significantly more accessible. This ATVOD report is clear evidence of a lack of progress towards that goal, so we urge the Government to draw up legislation on the matter next year.”

Like everyone else, a large majority of blind and partially sighted people watch and enjoy television. To do so, they often use audio description: an audio narrative between the dialogues which describes the action taking place on screen. 

For more information on the ATVOD report, visit www.atvod.co.uk/regulated-services

About RNIB

Every 15 minutes, someone in the UK begins to lose their sight. We are the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) and we’re here for everyone affected by sight loss – that’s almost 2 million people in the UK. If you, or someone you know, has a sight problem, RNIB can help. Call the RNIB Helpline on 0303 123 9999 or visit www.rnib.org.uk

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