The BAI invites you to provide your views on the content of the draft BAI Access Rules.

You can submit your views in a number of ways.  You can respond to a question, or questions, using the response form/s in the Sections below, or you can upload a response using the e-mail form at the bottom of this page.


Alternatively, you can submit your response in writing to: Access Officer, Broadcasting Authority of Ireland, 2-5 Warrington Place, Dublin D02XP29.

The closing date for submission on the draft Rules is Friday, 27th July 2018.

Supporting Documentation

Access Rules Consultation document

Audio versions of the Consultation document are available here.

Video versions of the Consultation document are available here.

Draft Access Rules

Statutory Review of BAI Access Rules 2017

What is Access Provision?


Subtitling is on-screen text that represents what is being said on the television screen. Subtitling can be open or closed. Open subtitling is subtitling that remains on the screen at all times.  Closed subtitling can be made visible or not visible as viewers wish, using, for example, a remote control. Subtitling is formatted so as to assist interpretation and understanding of the text and link it more accurately to the on-screen action.


Captioning refers to on-screen text that represents what is being said on the television screen.  However, while similar to subtitling, it is not as sophisticated and entails a more basic representation of what is being said on screen, sometimes having only one colour, verbatim and can have the text only in upper case.

Irish Sign Language

Irish Sign Language is the indigenous language of the Deaf community in Ireland.  It is a visual, spatial language with its own syntax and complex grammatical structure. Signing must be presented on a television screen through the use of a signer as part of the programme content, or the use of a signer (either a real person or a virtual person generated by computer) acting as an interpreter in a box superimposed in the corner of the screen.

Audio Description

Audio description is a commentary that gives a viewer with a visual impairment a verbal description of what is happening on the television screen at any given moment, as an aid to the understanding and enjoyment of the programme. The technique uses a second sound track that gives a description of the scene and the on-screen action.

Welcome to the Consultation!

Why is the BAI consulting on the Access Rules?

The BAI reviews the Access Rules every two years as required by the Broadcasting Act 2009.  In this context, the BAI undertook an extensive statutory review of the Rules in 2017.  The BAI is now proposing a number of changes to the current Access Rules.  These changes have been informed by the 2017 statutory review undertaken further to the requirements of the Broadcasting Act 2009.  This page sets out those changes and asks for your views.  The review process is described in Section 1 and you are invited to give the BAI your views on the draft Rules.

How can I give my views?

Based on the outcomes of the 2017 statutory review, the BAI is now proposing a number of changes to the current Rules. We are inviting users of access services and the public at large to give us their views on these proposed changes.

Section 1 details the proposed changes.  The BAI believes that the proposed changes will result in a better service for audiences who need access services to understand and enjoy television.  The proposed changes are explained on this page and are reflected in the Draft Access Rules here.

Timeframe for response

We recommend that you review the revised draft Rules when considering your response to the consultation questions in the following sections of this page.  The closing date for submission on the draft Rules is Friday, 27th July 2018.

Publication of Submissions

The BAI will publish the submissions received in this consultation on after the publication of the final Access Rules and subject to consideration of information that may be deemed of a personal nature, sensitive or given in confidence, as provided for by the Freedom of Information Act 2014 and the Data Protection Acts and Regulations.

Freedom of Information

The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) undertakes to use its best endeavours to hold confidential any information provided by you in this proposal subject to the BAI’s obligations under law, including under the Freedom of Information Act 2014. Should you wish that any of the information supplied by you in your submission should not be disclosed because of its sensitivity, you should, when providing the information, identify the same and specify the reasons for its sensitivity. The BAI will consult with you about this sensitive information before making a decision on any Freedom of Information request received.

Data Protection

The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland shall comply with their obligations under the Data Protection Acts 1988 and 2003 (as amended) and any other applicable data privacy laws and regulations.

Introduction – What are the Access Rules?

The Access Rules (the Rules) were introduced in 2005.  The Rules set out the amount of subtitling, Irish Sign Language and audio description which Irish television broadcasters must provide to increase the understanding and enjoyment of television for people who are deaf, hard of hearing, partially sighted, blind or hard of hearing and partially sighted.

In the Rules there are targets which set out what percentage of programming on each television channel should have subtitling or Irish Sign Language or audio description.  In the case of subtitling, the current Rules are set out as target ranges e.g. TG4 for 2016 was required to subtitle between 45-49% of output. The current Rules do not prioritise the level of subtitling for any particular type of programme or for any specific part of the day.

In the case of RTÉ, the current Rules require that any increase in subtitling and Irish Sign Language each year must include some increase in children’s programming.  In addition, in the case of audio description, RTÉ is also required to prioritise home-produced Irish programming.

In the current Rules, only RTÉ is required to provide audio description but other broadcasters can provide audio description and Irish Sign Language if they wish. Community television broadcasters (CCTV and DCTV) can offset any audio description and Irish Sign Language that they provide against their targets for subtitling.

In the case of Oireachtas TV, it may offset any Irish Sign Language provision against the targets for subtitling.

Broadcasters are also required to consult at least once per year with user groups (those organisations and groups that represent people who use subtitling, audio description or Irish Sign Language).

Broadcasters are also required to promote, both on-screen and off-screen, the Access Services they provide to viewers and listeners.

1. How has the BAI reviewed the Rules so far?

In 2017, the BAI undertook a statutory review of the Access Rules. This entailed the following activities:-

(i) Jurisdictional Review

A review of practices and trends in other countries was undertaken so that the BAI could benchmark its regulations against those in other EU countries, but also internationally. This review was intended to highlight best practice approaches to, and experiences of, regulation that the BAI can learn from or adapt in an Irish context, where appropriate.

(ii) Stakeholder Research

Broadcasters and the users of accessible services are the key stakeholders for the review and were centrally involved in the development of the Rules and in subsequent reviews. This aspect of the review of the effect of the Rules involved the following activities:-

  • A review of approved minutes of the meetings of the User Consultative Panels facilitated since their establishment in 2013. There are two consultative panels in place. Membership of the first panel is open to individuals who are deaf or who are hard of hearing and representatives of organisations that advocate on their behalf.
    Membership of the second panel is open to individuals who are blind or partially sighted and representatives of organisations that advocate on their behalf.
  • Interviews with broadcasters and access users and their representative groups which explored their perspectives in respect of access service provision and potential revisions to the Rules.
  • Interviews with current providers of access services to Irish broadcasters. These interviews concentrated on identifying, where possible, the following information: the level (and cost) of access provision; views on the current capacity of providers of access services; and views on the gaps in the indigenous skills base that may or may not limit the development of access service provision.
  • Workshops with access users, their representative organisations and broadcasters to consider and test draft policy options or suggested changes which may be considered in the context of the ongoing development of the Rules. This element of the research also looked at the role of human resource factors associated with the provision of the various access services. The costs of providing access services was also examined with broadcasters and service providers.

(iii) Technical Review

This aspect of the review looked at the most recent technical developments in an Irish context and drew on learning and research in other jurisdictions and any developments at an EU legislative level.

(iv) Review of Compliance

This element of the review examined recent trends in compliance and outcomes of enforcement actions by the BAI. This examination was informed by monitoring of randomly selected broadcast content for compliance with the BAI’s quality guidelines for subtitling, Irish Sign Language and audio description as well as the provision by broadcasters on a twice-yearly basis of reports detailing accessible content on their services. Feedback from the User Consultative Panels also informed the compliance review.

2. What were the key findings of the review process?

Following the statutory review, a report was finalised by the BAI and a copy was provided to the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment. A copy of the Report can be found here.

In summary, the review of the Rules highlighted the following:-

  • The quantity and range of access service provision on television services continues to increase annually. The quality and reliability of access service provision has also improved over this time, but challenges remain in this area.
  • The level of engagement between broadcasters and access users and their representatives has improved since the last review and this is a welcome trend.
  • Targets for audio description and Irish Sign Language, while modest, are being attained by RTÉ to a good standard.
  • Broadcasters continue to be engaged meaningfully in their approach to their requirements to provide access services with investment ongoing and the inclusion of accessible provisions on their online players (which is not a requirement of the BAI’s current Rules).
  • The Rules are, for the most part, in line with best practice at a European and International level. New approaches are evident from the review of practices in other jurisdictions and these approaches have informed the proposed changes to the Rules.
  • Where issues have arisen, broadcasters have been responsive and addressed these issues. However, compliance with quality requirements remains an issue for some but not all broadcasters.
  • The technical landscape has changed significantly in the last decade. This has opened up new opportunities in respect of online provision of access services and has also reduced costs. Solutions to the provision of ‘closed’ Irish Sign Language have been developed but these are not market ready at this time.

In terms of those areas where further action is merited, the review highlighted the following:-

  • The issue of the quality of access provision requires further intervention on the part of the BAI. The review and the BAI’s engagements with broadcasters (as well as the experience of broadcasters at a European level) clearly indicates that this is a complex issue impacted by a number of factors. It is also evident that broadcasters have engaged with this challenge and there is nothing to indicate that problems with quality arise principally from poor standards in respect of the application of the quality requirements. Issues arising from the variety of standards applying to set top boxes and also issues in terms of the ‘carry-through’ of access provision by platform providers remain.
    Quality issues are evident from the BAI’s monitoring and continue to be reported by users. The revised Rules include proposals to address this issue.
  • The targets and the approach to target-setting emerged as issues requiring further attention. There were very different views evident from the engagement with stakeholders. Broadcasters have indicated that they are not in a position to increase provision above current levels and access users advocate strongly a move towards 100% provision. At the same time, users have also questioned the value of some live subtitling and whether broadcaster resources allocated to live access provision may be better spent elsewhere. The statutory review findings indicate that further refinements to the mechanisms for setting targets may be warranted, for example, giving consideration to peak time provision.
  • The review also indicates that an increased focus on the provision of Irish Sign Language and audio description may be warranted in the context of the coming years. Compared to other jurisdictions examined as part of the statutory review, Ireland has lower level audio description and sign language requirements.
    It is also evident that in certain cases these jurisdictions apply requirements beyond the public service broadcaster and given the emergence of the Virgin Media Group of television channels, the provision of Irish Sign Language and audio description on some of their services must be given consideration.
  • The manner and extent of engagement between the BAI, broadcasters and users has also been highlighted by the review as deserving attention. It is clear that, in the case of users, there is a disconnect, in certain respects, between the regulatory and compliance framework and users’ awareness of this framework.Not dissimilar issues arise in the case of broadcasters. A common view emerging from broadcasters was that the BAI did not have regard to the uniqueness of each broadcaster when setting targets in the Rules despite the existence of a set of Influencing Factors which allow the BAI to have regard to the broadcasters’ particular circumstances. Separately, broadcasters have asked the BAI to support a broader engagement with the sector as a whole and for mechanisms to be put in place to support broadcasters.


3. What are the proposed changes to the Rules?

The proposed changes to the Access Rules have been informed by the outcomes of the statutory review in 2017 and these changes are set out below. In particular, the statutory review included meetings with broadcasters and user groups at which potential policy options were discussed in respect of the following four areas relevant to the Access Rules:-

  • Targets for access service provision;
  • Quality of access service provision;
  • Enforcement of the Access Rules;
  • Engagement between the BAI, broadcasters and access service users.

The views generated at the meetings in terms of these four areas have informed the draft Rules set out in this consultation.

4. Introduction, Scope and Jurisdiction, Approach to setting Targets & Timeframes and Definitions (Sections 1- 4 of the draft Rules)

These four sections of the draft Rules remain substantially the same as the current Rules and existing practice. The main change relates to Section 3 (setting targets and timeframes) which is a new section but also one that does not introduce any policy changes.

Section 3 references the Access Principles and Influencing Factors that the BAI and its predecessors have used to set targets and timeframes since the introduction of the Rules in 2005. However, they have not to date formed part of the published Rules. It is now proposed to include the principles and factors in the Rules in order to improve transparency about the processes used to set targets and timeframes for subtitling, Irish Sign Language and audio description. The issue of improved transparency about how the BAI applies the Rules was one of the themes emerging from the statutory review undertaken in 2017.

Section 3 also emphasises that the Access Principles and Influencing Factors will be used by the BAI when considering whether to set commitments for services based in Ireland but which do not target Irish audiences. Again, they have been used in practice in these circumstances but the emphasis is included in the interests of transparency. The BAI is also being mindful that Brexit may result in an increased number of services of this nature and regulatory expectations on such services should be clear.

In respect of the other sections, Section 2 (Scope and Jurisdiction) has been amended to acknowledge broadcasters’ activities in making online content accessible and to encourage continued developments in this area as requested by users. Finally, the definitions for subtitling, Irish Sign Language and audio description remain essentially unchanged. Some minor drafting changes have been made to make the definitions easier to understand.


5. General Rules Applying to All Access Provision (Section 5 of the draft Rules).

This section of the draft Rules is new but contains a mix of existing and additional rules introduced to reflect the findings of the statutory review.

In terms of existing provisions, these are set out in draft Rules 5.1 (Quality Standards), 5.3 (Promotion of Access Provision) and 5.4 (Obligation to Consult with Access Users).

In terms of Rule 5.1 (Quality Standards), the wording has been updated to highlight the importance of ensuring access provision is provided to a high quality. It includes a new requirement that broadcasters monitor transmission output to ensure that the quality of subtitling, audio description and Irish Sign Language is maintained.

In terms of new Rules proposed, these are set out in Rules 5.2 (National Emergencies), 5.5 (Access Liaison Officer) and 5.6 (Carry-over of Targets). Proposed Rule 5.2 (National Emergencies) arose as an issue in the statutory review.

This Rule places a number of obligations on broadcasters in terms of information provided to audiences during a national emergency.

The proposed approach is intended to recognise that the obligation should fall on the Government to make information in respect of a national emergency accessible while at the same time placing an obligation on broadcasters to ensure that any such accessible content is provided to audiences. This provision is also in line with Section 43(2)(d)(iii) of the 2009 Act which states that the BAI may have regard to “news and news-related matters” when setting down rules.

In terms of Rule 5.5 (Access Liaison Officer), this rule is intended to improve the communication flow between broadcasters and access users. At the moment, interactions between these two parties may often be limited to contact being made as a complaint or only annually via formal meetings. The proposal around an Access Liaison Officer is intended to encourage a rounded form of engagement between broadcasters and users and also provide users with a clear point of contact.

In terms of Rule 5.6 (Carry-over of Targets), this draft rule would permit broadcasters to carry-over targets into the following year in circumstances where they provided more or less than the percentage target set for them. For example, a broadcaster who is required to provide 60% but only provided 57% would be permitted to add the 3% difference on top of the following year’s requirement.

This proposal is intended to  provide some flexibility to broadcasters in a context where the draft Rules propose to set subtitling targets with reference to a single percentage (e.g. 55%) rather than the current approach which uses a target range (e.g. 55%-60%).

This approach is intended to recognise that due to financial or programming considerations, broadcasters may require some flexibility. For example, it may be harder for a broadcaster to meet a target during periods where upgrades to equipment take place or during periods where the broadcaster faces economic challenges.

Similarly, broadcasters who exceed the target can bank that for the following year and make use of it in circumstances where business challenges arose. However, so as to avoid potential misuse of this flexibility, it may only be availed of over two calendar years and the carry-over is limited to 5% of the target in any given year.


6. Subtitling Rules (Section 6 of the draft Rules)

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.

7. Irish Sign Language Rules (Section 7 of the draft Rules)

A number of changes have been proposed in respect of this section of the draft Rules. The proposed changes are as follows:-

  • The current Rules deal with Irish Sign Language (ISL) and audio description under one section. In the draft Rules, they are dealt with in two separate sections. This change has been made to make the Rules more readable but also reflects the different status given to ISL following the enactment of the Irish Sign Language Act 2017.This Act has given recognition to the language and places obligations on public service bodies to facilitate Irish Sign Language users.  The Act includes a general provision in respect of the provision of Irish Sign Language by broadcasters and obliges them, in meeting their commitments under the Access Rules, to “adhere to principles of equality, dignity and respect in terms of the promotion and broadcasting of such programmes.”
  • Having regard to the provisions of the aforementioned Act, the Rules prioritise increases in access provision for ISL in comparison to subtitling. While in the case of subtitling, the targets set for 2019 are at the lower end of the 2018, in the case of ISL, increases are in place for RTÉ 1, RTÉ 2 and RTÉ Jnr from 2019.
  • The draft Rules, for the first time, include a proposed obligation on TV3 to provide ISL. Again, this reflects the new status given to ISL. This proposal is also informed by the BAI’s Access Principles and Influencing Factors, in particular the stage of development of this broadcaster, its position in the market, the capacity of this service to fund this provision as well as the Principle of Incrementality set out in the BAI’s Access Principles and Influencing Factors.
  • As with the subtitling rules, the proposed ISL targets and timeframes are for 2019 and 2020 only and we now invite your views on the targets that should be set for the years 2021-2023. The rationale for this approach is the same as applied for subtitling and this is detailed above.
  • The current Rules include an obligation that, of the total increase in ISL provision provided on an annual basis for RTÉ services, a reasonable proportion of children’s programming shall be included. In view of the inclusion of targets for RTÉ Jnr and increases in these targets, it is proposed to remove this obligation from the Rules. This has been replaced with an obligation to ensure that a proportion of increases in ISL across all services with ISL provision consist of home produced programming (Rule 7.6). However, the word ‘reasonable’ has been removed as this was not considered by the BAI to be measurable in practice.
  • Regarding the other proposals under this section of the draft Rules – the 24-hour time period over which the obligations in respect of ISL must be met (draft Rule 7.2) remains in place. In addition, the provisions permitting Oireachtas TV and those providing ISL on a voluntary basis, to offset the ISL provision against their subtitling targets has also been retained (draft Rules 7.4 & 7.5).As noted above, the approach proposed has regard to the new ISL Act. However, the implementation of this Act is also likely to place higher demand on ISL interpreters and there is therefore a degree of uncertainty regarding the capacity amongst ISL interpreters, and, therefore broadcasters, to meet ISL targets that are higher than those proposed. The consultation is therefore seeking views on the proposed targets for the 2021-2024 period.

8. Audio Description Rules (Section 8 of the draft Rules)

A number of changes have been proposed in respect of this section of the draft Rules. The changes proposed are as follows:-

  • In view of the rationale set out above for ISL, audio description is proposed to be also dealt with under a separate section. This decision is also informed by the move to propose more extensive targets for this type of access provision.
  • As is the case with ISL, the revised Rules for the first time propose to include an obligation to provide audio description on TV3. Again, this is proposed having regard to the Influencing Factors and Access Principles, reflects the stage of development of this broadcaster, the capacity of the service to fund this provision as well as the Principle of Incrementality. Where ISL differs from audio description is the dependence, in the case of ISL, on those trained to use the language. The issues impacting on the provision of audio description are linked to the cost of providing it, the suitability of a given programme to facilitate audio description and the broadcaster having the technical set-up to transmit audio description on its service(s).
  • As with the subtitling and ISL proposals, the proposed audio description targets and timeframes are for 2019 and 2020 only and views are invited in respect of the targets to be set for 2021-2023 and the rationale in this respect is also related to developments at an EU Level.
  • Regarding the other proposals under this heading, the draft revised Rules retain the 18-hour time period over which the obligations in respect of audio description must be met (Rule 8.2).In addition, the provision permitting those providing audio description on a voluntary basis, to offset this provision against their subtitling targets has also been retained (Rule 8.5).
  • Finally, the requirement that a proportion of the increase in audio description in a given year be related to home-produced programmes is also retained. The commitment now applies to all television services rather than solely RTÉ. However, the word ‘reasonable’ has been removed as this is not measurable in practice.

9. Complying with the Rules (Section 9 of draft revised Rules)

This section is new. However, the provisions set out reflect, for the main part, the current approach to ensuring compliance with the Rules which informs the reports provided to the BAI’s Compliance Committee on an annual basis. The main change relates to the proposal to publish a public report annually detailing compliance with the Rules by broadcasters.

While the outcomes of the Compliance Committee’s assessment of compliance has been made available on a regular basis to groups representing access users and to members of the BAI User Consultative Panels, the statutory review highlighted a desire for greater transparency about compliance outcomes as well as a lack of awareness about the process used to assess compliance. In that context, this section is proposed to address these issues. However, as this is largely an operational matter, the proposed Rules leave the BAI free to amend the processes as required. This section of the Rules also clearly links compliance with quality standards with an assessment of the attainment of targets by broadcasters.

While the BAI has previously issued compliance notices where broadcasters have not met the quality standards, it has considered this separately from an assessment of the attainment of targets. This issue arose during the statutory review and is addressed in the draft proposals.

In tandem with this, the BAI’s monitoring of output will now be drawn from a wider sample across the broadcast year, thus enabling a more comprehensive assessment of compliance with quality which will also feed into the BAI assessment of compliance overall.


10. Complaints, Support for the Implementation of the Rules, Effective Date, Guidance on the Rules and Review of the Rules (Sections 10 – 13 draft revised Rules)

Section 10, 12 and 13 of the draft revised Rules are standard elements in all of the BAI’s codes and rules and introduce no policy changes. However, Section 11 is new and has been introduced on foot of the statutory review. That review highlighted a desire from stakeholders (both access users and broadcasters) for greater input and support from the BAI with a view to taking a more rounded approach to the application and implementation of the Rules.

The introduction of target ranges, annual meetings with broadcasters that included a forward-looking dimension, as well as the introduction of the Access User Consultative Panels have been measures which, to a greater and lesser degree, have been intended to create an approach to regulation which is more nuanced than, for example, advertising regulation. In that context, and having regard to the outcomes of the statutory review, this section is included to set out the BAI’s commitment to support the implementation of the Rules. This could, for example, include the facilitation of an annual or biennial joint forum to involve the BAI, broadcasters, access users and, potentially, programme makers in a knowledge sharing exchange. The approach taken will need to provide the BAI with flexibility as to the way it might provide that support, having regard to the internal resource capacity of the BAI and its strategic priorities.


11. Access Principles and Influencing Factors, Quality Standards and Legislation (Appendices 1, 2, & 3)

As noted above, the draft Rules propose to set out the Access Principles and Influencing Factors used by the BAI to set access targets and timeframes. This is not currently the case. In addition, the Quality Standards developed by the BAI in respect of subtitling, ISL and audio description have also been published separately and it is proposed to include these in the final Rules.

In terms of the principles and factors, these remain mostly unchanged since those introduced in 2005. One change has been made and this entails the inclusion of the viewing share for a television broadcaster as one of the elements to be included under the influencing factor related to the stage of development of the broadcast provider. This is included to allow for viewing share to be taken into account when the Rules are being set. This is common in other jurisdictions and is the primary mechanism used in Britain and Northern Ireland. In the case of the Irish rules, its use as a sole factor was not favoured by those who participated in the statutory review.

The inclusion of these two appendices will provide the first opportunity since the Rules were introduced in 2005 to seek views on these operational aspects of the Rules.

While there has been no request to review the principles and factors arising from the statutory review, consulting on them is timely given the time that has elapsed since their introduction and also having regard to the changing media landscape. The quality guidelines and their suitability did arise in the context of the statutory review and the consultation will provide stakeholders with the opportunity to comment on their current suitability.

Appendix 3 to the draft Rules sets out the legislative basis for the Rules and other relevant legislation. This section has been updated to include reference to Section 8 of the Irish Sign Language Act 2017.

This Act obliges broadcasters, in fulfilling their obligations under the Rules in respect of Irish Sign Language to adhere to principles of equality, dignity and respect in terms of the promotion and broadcasting of programmes containing Irish Sign Language.


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