Ofcom is to preparing to crack down on the poor standard of subtitling of it says is common on UK TV by introducing a six-monthly quality check that will name and shame broadcasters into improving their services. Gaffes include asking for a “moment’s violence” during The Queen Mother’s funeral.
Viewers are able to switch on a subtitles option for most TV programmes across 70 channels, with about 7.6 million UK adults saying they have used this service. Of these about 1.4 million people have hearing impairments and rely on the service.
Ofcom said it continues to receive numerous complaints that there are problems with the speed, synchronisation, accuracy and presentation of live TV subtitling, as it put proposals out to consultation aimed at getting broadcasters to raise their game.
Under the new proposals, Ofcom intends to publish a report every six months that will measure speed, accuracy, the delay between speech being broadcast and subtitled text appearing on screen, and the number of programmes that are delivered too late to prepare accurate subtitling in advance and must rely on live work that is inevitably lower quality.
“Ofcom wants to see an improvement in the quality of subtitling on live programmes for people who are deaf and hard-of-hearing,” said Claudio Pollack, consumer group director at Ofcom. “Our proposals will help identify the areas where broadcasters can make progress, leading to a better viewing experience over time.”