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Greens: Deaf and hearing impaired community to be impacted by Broadcasting Bill

Media Release

Senator Rachel Siewert - Australian Greens spokesperson on family and community services

9 Feb 2015

The Australian Greens have tabled a dissenting report on the Broadcasting and Other Legislation Amendment (Deregulation) Bill 2014 which highlights the detrimental effect the proposed changes will have on deaf and hearing impaired consumers of free-to-air and subscription TV services.

“The deregulation agenda of the current Liberal Government is again impacting on those least deserving and least able to bear the costs; in this case, the deaf community”, said Senator Siewert, Australian Greens spokesperson on Disability Services.

“This Bill has a significant effect on how TV captions are regulated in Australia and has been clearly been developed without consultation with consumers.

 “The Greens share the perspective of many deafness organisations, that broadcaster reports on their service delivery is a fundamental feature of compliance, consumer protection and efficient market operation, and should be maintained.

“An effective consumer complaints mechanism can complement this statutory reporting requirement, but should not replace it.

“Nor does the Bill effectively address the concerns of consumers that the most appropriate captioning method will be used by broadcasters.

“The consultation around this Bill, and the broader reform, was inadequate. There is still quite clearly a need to review captioning on Australian television against best practise, including the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

“Without significant amendment, this Bill will erode the quality of Australian TV captioning and contribute to the discrimination that deaf people face in accessing basic services,” concluded Senator Siewert.

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