Jun 20, 2012

Broadcasting Services Amendment (Improved Access to Television Services) Bill 2012 – Summation of Second Reading

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler—Leader of the House and Minister for Infrastructure and Transport) (18:45):  I would like to thank members who have contributed to the debate.

Access to electronic media is important to all members of our community. This bill contains a number of measures to improve media access for the many Australians who are deaf or hearing impaired. The bill responds to the consultations with stakeholders, beginning with the Media Access Review process, which commenced in 2008. It amends the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 to implement new captioning targets and obligations on free-to-air and subscription television. Captioning is an important tool that assists people with a hearing impairment. Importantly, the bill makes provision not only for improved quantity of captioning but also for improved quality through the implementation of minimum quality standards regarding the readability, comprehensibility and accuracy of captions.

The bill also enhances the role of the regulator, the ACMA, in working with stakeholders to develop captioning standards, to monitor compliance and to respond to consumer complaints. The bill will also provide for improved access to television emergency warnings for people with a hearing or vision impairment.

The government is committed to making meaningful improvements to levels of media access, while ensuring that our actions are practical for broadcasters and content producers. The amendments in this bill, accompanied by a regulation to be developed by the Attorney-General, will provide both viewers and broadcasters with a level of regulatory certainty through one set of clear future targets, one overarching regulatory system and a clear and cost-effective compliance and complaints mechanism. I commend the bill to the House.

Question agreed to.

Bill read a second time.