On 11 June 2010, Ofcom published a statement following a review of television access services (subtitling, audio description and signing) in the UK. Under the Communications Act 2003 Ofcom is required to carry out periodic reviews of its regulation in this area.
The review focused in particular on whether there was a case for increasing audio description targets from the current level of 10%. Ofcom concluded that the case for and against change to the audio description targets was finely balanced, and forwarded its findings to the Secretary of State for consideration.
The Government has now carefully considered Ofcom’s work and also taken into account the encouraging voluntary commitments made by Sky, the BBC and Channel 4 to audio describe at least 20% of their programming on 26 channels and the comparatively high levels of audio description voluntarily offered on other channels. Based on the findings before us which indicate that the evidence for increasing the statutory quota is very finely balanced, we have concluded that it is not obvious that further regulation is called for. Therefore we have taken the decision not to increase the statutory 10% audio description target at this time.
We appreciate that this will be a disappointing outcome for those who have pressed for an increase in the statutory target; however, we have today (14/7) written to Ofcom to ask that they continue closely to monitor levels of audio description provision and report to the Government if average levels of provision fall significantly below current levels so that we can consider whether to review the targets, or invite Ofcom to review and make recommendations.
Letter to Ofcom