Communiqué: an update on audio description on TV

February 2013

When the trial of audio description (AD) ended on 5 November last year, Communications Minister Senator Stephen Conroy acknowledged the strong desire for the service to continue and agreed to work together with all parties towards establishing a permanent AD service on Australian TV in the future.

"It’s clear that audio description is a service that is strongly desired by the vision-impaired community, and the trial was embraced with real enthusiasm by participants,” said Minister Conroy.

“The government will carefully consider the ABC’s report and looks forward to working cooperatively with all parties to address the issues raised.”

We understand that the ABC has issued its technical report on the trial to the Government and we are keenly awaiting its public release, and a process for discussing it, so that we may work collaboratively with the government and the ABC to work through any issues.

After a motion moved by Greens Senators Scott Ludlam and Rachel Siewart in November, the Senate has also supported the public release of the report and for the Government to consider including funding for AD in the ABC’s triennial funding process in May this year.

The Blindness Sector Report released by Blind Citizens Australia, Vision Australia, ACCAN and Media Access Australia, which highlighted the experience of the trial for Australians who are blind or vision impaired, suggested a roundtable discussion to explore what would be required to establish a permanent service on the ABC.

The Report also raised consumer issues to be addressed in discussions and provided an overview of the It’s as easy as ABC campaign, which saw over 30,000 postcards distributed nationwide urging Senator Conroy and ABC Managing Director Mark Scott to keep AD on TV.

We share the sentiment of Senator Conroy that "the audio description trial [was] an important first step on the pathway to establishing a permanent audio description service on Australian television” and keenly anticipate discussions to commence in order to achieve this.