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BAI's Access Rules Open for Public Consultation
19 Jun 2018 :
The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) has launched a public consultation on proposed changes to the BAI's Access Rules, which govern the amount of subtitling, Irish Sign Language and audio description that Irish television broadcasters must offer to the public.

The objective of the rules is to increase the understanding and enjoyment of television for people who are deaf, hard of hearing, blind or partially sighted and those who are hard of hearing and partially sighted. The consultation will remain open until 27th July 2018 and the BAI is seeking responses from the general public, representative groups and broadcasters. The revisions are being proposed following the completion in 2017 of a statutory review of the Access Rules.

Commenting, chairperson of the BAI, Professor Pauric Travers, said: “The Access Rules have been in place since 2005 and they have contributed significantly to increasing access to and enjoyment of television services for target groups. Advances in technology and the switchover to digital TV in 2012 have also provided new methods by which broadcasters can provide programming to the Irish viewing audience, which includes those who avail of access services. However, we must seek to build on what has been achieved to date.

“The review undertaken by the BAI as part of this consultation found that the quantity and range of 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 review also found that the rules are, for the most part, in line with best practice at European and international level, with new approaches from other jurisdictions having informed the proposed changes to the Rules.”

Chief executive of the BAI, Michael O’Keeffe said: “Previously, the Access Rules contained target ranges that set out the percentage of programming that should have subtitling, Irish Sign Language or audio description on each television channel.  It is now being proposed that rather than a range, a specific target figure will be set.  Specific target figures have been set out for the main broadcasters for 2019 and 2020, while the BAI will consult with broadcasters with regard to targets for the 2021 – 2023 period.

The draft Rules also include a proposed obligation for TV3 to provide Irish Sign Language, reflecting the stage of development of the broadcaster and the new status given to this language in the Irish Sign Language Act 2017. Under the proposed changes, broadcasters will also be required to have an Access Liaison Officer to improve the communication flow between stations and access users.

Submissions can be made by email, online or in hard copy. Online submissions can be made via the BAI website here, by email to access@bai.ie or hard copy submissions can be made in writing to the Access Officer, Broadcasting Authority of Ireland, 2-5 Warrington Place, Dublin D02 XP29. The deadline for receipt of submissions is Friday 27th July 2018. Copies of the draft Rules and Irish Sign Language and audio versions of the consultation document are available here. A copy of the consultation in Braille is available upon request from the BAI.

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