This section retains a number of the current Rules, specifically the use of an 18-hour broadcast day over which the commitments must, generally, be met. There are a number of changes proposed to the approach to be taken to the setting of targets and timeframes.
They are as follows:-
In terms of the subtitling targets that are proposed for broadcasters. The draft Rules include proposed targets for 2019 and 2020 only and we are consulting on the targets that should be set for 2021-2023. This approach has been taken in the context of the introduction of revised television regulations via updates to the AVMS Directive, which sets minimum standards applying across the EU.The implementation of the Directive will require the BAI to update its regulations and the scope of its regulation may also be expanded to include non-traditional media. This is relevant in a context where on-demand services such as the RTÉ Player are not regulated by the BAI at this time but may fall to be regulated by the BAI over the operating period of the revised Rules (2019-2024). In such a context, it may be necessary for further revised Rules to be introduced to reflect such a change in regulation and for such rules to have regard to online as well as broadcast provision of accessible services.
It is also proposed that the use of a target range in terms of subtitling commitments will be removed. For example, for 2018, TV3 is required to provide between 51-55% of subtitling whereas the proposed rules set a single target figure of 51% for 2019.The target range was introduced into the current version of the Rules with a view to encouraging improvements in quality such that those broadcasters who invested in quality could acceptably hit the lower end of the target range and that this would act as an incentive, while those who did not were required to hit the higher end of the target range. This approach was coupled with annual meetings to discuss not only performance for the prior year but also plans for the coming year and this informed the Compliance Committee’s assessment of compliance.However, in practice, the BAI found that it was only appropriate in the context of the Rules to notify a broadcaster of apparent non-compliance with the target range when they failed to meet the lower figure of the target range. Therefore, while the use of a target range moved the application of the Rules away from a mechanistic form of regulation and while the quality of access provision improved, it has not proven as effective as hoped. The statutory review also highlighted little support for the use of target ranges from access users and their representatives. For this reason, the BAI is of the view that, on balance, reverting back to single targets may be preferable in the interest of certainty and practicality. In this context, the target percentages set out in the draft Rules have been set at the lower end of the current target ranges for 2018.
The concept of setting commitments for subtitling during peak-time programming is proposed in the draft Rules. Peak time is set at 6pm-11.30pm. Peak-time commitments are proposed for the four main television services (RTÉ 1, RTÉ 2, TV3 and TG4) and the commitments set down reflect current performance during peak-time period. This approach is being proposed in the context of issues highlighted by stakeholders as part of the statutory review. In particular, the view was expressed that broadcasters could use their resources more productively by focusing more on parts of the day where there were higher audiences and where the need for accessible content was therefore greater. The commitment is also in line with Section 43(2)(d)(ii) of the 2009 Act wherein the BAI may have regard to “popular viewing time as well as at other times” when setting down rules.
The draft Rules propose setting a combined target for services other than the main television services. In this regard, a combined target is set for the Virgin Media Group (TV3) services, 3e and Be3, whereas separate targets for these services are in place at this time. Similarly, combined targets are set for RTÉ Jnr and RTÉ News Now with a minimum of 50% of combined output dedicated to children’s programming. Issues of flexibility set out immediately above have informed this proposal.
The current Rules require the annual percentage increase in subtitling on RTÉ 1 and RTÉ 2 to be allocated to children’s programming. Given the provision of subtitling on RTÉ Jnr, the rule in this respect has been revised such that the commitment refers to RTÉ as a whole rather than these two specific services.
Finally, the current Rules permit broadcasters to meet their subtitling targets via the provision of captioning. Captioning is a lower quality of access provision and audiences will be most familiar with captioning from watching subtitled foreign language films (captioning is defined in the draft Rules in section 4).Captioning has been permitted since the introduction of the Rules but it is now proposed to phase these out by 2024 so as to improve the overall quality of access provision for audiences.
What are your views on the targets proposed for subtitling?
In terms of targets to be set for 2021-2023, what percentages should be set for each broadcaster in the context of the Access Principles and Influencing Factors? Where relevant, please provide additional information to support your view on these targets?
What are your views on the proposal to introduce peak-time targets for some broadcasters?
What are your views on the proposal to set specific targets for RTÉ 1 and RTÉ 2 and a single combined target for the other RTÉ services? Do you agree with this proposal or, in your view, should specific targets be set for each RTÉ channel?
What are your views on the proposal to set specific targets for TV3 and a single combined target for the other Virgin Media Group services? Do you agree with this proposal or, in your view, should specific targets be set for each Virgin Media Group channel?
What are your views on the proposal to amend the current requirement so that increases in subtitling each year would include increases in subtitling for children’s programming on all RTÉ services rather than simply RTÉ 1 and RTÉ 2?
What are your views on the proposal to remove, from 2024 onwards, the ability of broadcasters to meet their subtitling targets via the provision of captioning?