Question to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport:
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps he is taking to increase accessibility to sign language coverage on television.
Under the Communications Act 2003 and Broadcasting Acts of 1990 and 1996, broadcasters are required to meet accessibility requirements for their linear TV services. Statutory targets are set by Ofcom which sets five and ten year targets on subtitling, sign language and audio description for licensed television services.
The government recognises that as part of a digitally inclusive society, television content should be accessible for all UK audiences. That is why, as part of implementing provisions in the Digital Economy Act 2017, the Government asked Ofcom to provide recommendations on how legislation could make on demand services more accessible.
Ofcom published its report in December 2018 and since then my Department has been working with Ofcom to develop the legislative framework for future requirements. As a result, in November 2019, my officials wrote to Ofcom requesting that they complete a further targeted consultation looking at how the regulations should work in practice. Ofcom published this second consultation on 8 July and it closes on 16 September. Once Ofcom have reported back to DCMS and we have reviewed the recommendations, we will set out next steps.