Ofcom has revised the arrangements for signing on domestic TV channels in the UK with an audience share between 0.05% and 1%. Ofcom’s decisions take account of responses to the consultation published in July last year, seeking views on possible changes to the way channels meet their regulatory obligations with regard to sign language. The revised arrangements will start from 1 January 2016.
According to the revised arrangements, broadcasters will be required to increase the amount of sign-presented programming (i.e. TV programmes specially made for deaf people and presented by someone who uses sign language) shown on relevant TV channels over time, starting at 30 minutes a month from the first anniversary of the relevant date to 75 minutes from the tenth anniversary. The relevant date for the purpose of access services obligations is the later of the date the channel started broadcasting or 29 December 2003.
As an alternative, relevant channels may participate in alternative arrangements to provide sign-presented programming, provided that these have been approved by Ofcom, in the light of the Guidance it has published. In this case, the minimum financial contribution they must make (to support the making of such programmes by specialised organisations), will rise over time, and will be adjusted for inflation.
Most channels providing access services have been established for several years. Without transitional arrangements, they would face a steep increase in obligations from 1 January 2016. To avoid this, channels that have already reached the fourth anniversary of their relevant date by 1 January 2016 will be subject to more gradual increases, rising to the same maximum obligations over a number of years.