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February 12, 2003

Storm over TV subtitles

From: icWales, UK - 12 Feb 2003

The Western Mail - The National Newspaper Of Wales

A DEAF group is taking a complaint against HTV, now known as ITV1, to the Commission for Racial Equality on the grounds English people with hearing difficulties receive a better service than the Welsh.

Cedric Moon of the Wales Deaf Broadcasting Council claims that HTV Wales does not subtitle its local weekend news, unlike its sister channel HTV West.

He suggests that as the television channel has a statutory obligation to provide subtitling in both England and Wales, by having such a service at weekends only in England it is guilty of discrimination and in breach of race relations laws.

According to the Independent Television Commission, the ITV Charter for Broadcasting in the Nations and Regions guaranteed "the full subtitling of lunchtime, early evening and late regional news will be extended to all UK regions by 2002-03."

A spokesman for ITV1 Wales insisted the channel was treating the issue seriously and was striving to provide subtitling on all news.

He said, "We have, over the past year-and-a-half, brought in dedicated news subtitlers as part of our commitment to improve the quality of our subtitled news bulletins here in Wales.

"As we have more live output than most news services, this has meant a huge effort in terms of investment and training to subtitle our daytime bulletins as well as the main evening news.

"In 2002, we also subtitled three-quarters of ITV1 Wales's total regional programme output."

The channel insisted it was reviewing its position on providing subtitles for the weekend news and pointed out that it had increased the amount of signing used in the main evening news.

In a letter from programme manager Juliette Brown, the ITC claims to have "no jurisdiction over the scheduling or type of programmes that broadcasters choose to subtitle".

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