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UK subtitles meet Ofcom targets

The UK’s domestic TV channels all “met or exceeded” their 2014 targets for providing subtitles, signing and audio description on programmes, according to a report by watchdog Ofcom.

The targets, for what are known as “access services”, were set by the 2003 Communications Act.

The BBC must subtitle 100 per cent of its programmes, audio describe 10 per cent and provide sign language on 5 per cent. Channel 4 and ITV, STV and UTV must all subtitle at least 90 per cent of broadcasts.

“To help people with hearing or visual impairments enjoy a choice of TV programmes, a number of broadcasters are required to provide subtitling, signing and audio description services,” said Ofcom on publishing 2014’s Television Access Services report.

“Of the 72 UK channels required to provide these services, all met or exceeded their targets for 2014.”

Last year, the broadcasting watchdog began a regular audit of the quality of subtitles, following complaints by viewers about inaccuracies and subtitles which were delayed or had frozen or disappeared. One report said poor subtitling on live programmes could often make viewing “frustrating” or even “unwatchable”.

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