Following Channel 4’s subtitling crisis in September 2021, the broadcaster has committed to improve accessibility of its services in 2022 by subtitling 100% of content on All4 and increasing signed content.
In September, after a fire at Red Bee Media damaged equipment that provided subtitling across multiple broadcasters, Channel 4 was unable to broadcast its content with subtitles on both linear and on-demand services for over a month. This meant that deaf people and people with hearing loss were unable to enjoy popular TV shows including Great British Bake Off and Married at First Sight, leaving many feeling excluded and ignored.
In Channel’s 4 March 2022 statement, Chief Operating Officer Jonathan Allen said “While Channel 4 did exceed the regulatory targets set by Ofcom, we would like to apologise once again to everyone who was affected by the severe technology incident at the end of last year that affected our services. This year not only will every programme on our linear channels and All 4 be subtitled, but we are increasing the number of programmes that are audio described and have BSL provision.”
What have Channel 4 promised?
Firstly, Channel 4 have committed to returning to full coverage of subtitles across all their linear channels, including Channel 4, More 4 and E4.
By the end of 2022 they also are aiming to achieve 100% subtitle coverage on their own on-demand service, All 4.
British Sign Language Users (BSL users) will also benefit from Channel 4’s promise to double its signing provision on Channel 4 and E4 from 5% to 10%, and increase the number of boxsets on All 4 that are available in sign language.
Our Subtitle It! campaign
RNID’s Subtitle It campaign has been fighting for more accessible content to be available on on-demand services, and Channel 4’s promise to deliver full coverage on all its All4 content is greatly welcomed. We hope that other on-demand services will follow Channel 4’s lead in making accessibility a priority for 2022.
RNID will continue to monitor progress towards achieving these goals and we hope that Channel 4 will keep its promise to the deaf community to improve access services for its audiences through the year.