Government committed to captioning

  • Hon Carmel Sepuloni
  • Hon Clare Curran
Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media Disability Issues

Every New Zealander should have the best possible access to media content and this year Government commits to exploring options to increase captioning on New Zealand television and film.

Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media Minister Clare Curran says “captioning is a vital service for hearing-impaired people, providing them with access to both local and international content, including news coverage, sports and entertainment.”

“The government is determined to improve access to captioning for Kiwis and I’ve asked officials to look at options, including the select committee recommendation that providing captions be a requirement for receiving NZ On Air and NZ Film Commission funding.

“100 percent of TV One’s live prime-time line-up, from 6 to 10pm is captioned but overall 57 percent of programmes on that channel are captioned including new and repeated content.  TV 2 is also 100 percent captioned during prime-time and 73 per cent overall – and we want to do better.

“We’ll explore options to increase levels by consulting with the sector on the best approach to increase captioning across all media, including on demand content,” Ms Curran says.

“Last year’s Government Administration Committee’s inquiry into Captioning in New Zealand has given us useful information on the current situation and shows more needs to be done to achieve higher rates of captioning.

“We will also be looking at how best to raise the level of audio description – a voiced narrative of on-screen visuals, which improves access for blind and visually impaired people.”

Increased access to on-line content for hearing and visually impaired people is also one of the outcomes of the New Zealand Disability Strategy 2016-2026.

“Government acknowledges other countries in the OECD, including Australia, Canada and the UK, have higher levels of captioning than New Zealand and we want to ensure our work this year will help boost New Zealand’s level,” Ms Curran says.

“We’ll consult with members of the hearing-impaired community, advocacy groups, broadcasters and Able, the organisation working to make media accessible, to find the best ways to achieve our goals.” 

Disability Issues Minister Carmel Sepuloni welcomes the move saying “We have an estimated one in six hearing-impaired people in New Zealand and in 2016 more than 12,000 people were registered with the Blind Foundation. Helping these people to get the most from media content is a worthwhile step for us to take”

The government’s response to the report on captioning was presented to the House today and is available here:

The select committee report is available here: