NEWS published on 14 Oct 2015

Access Services Experts Group discuss Eastern European challenges and EU directives

The EBU’s Access Services Experts group held their annual plenary meeting in Brussels on 12 October. The group brings together EBU Members and Media professionals responsible for Access services in the field of subtitling, signed programmes, audio description and audio subtitling which enable sensory challenged people to access  public broadcasters programmes all over Europe. More than 54 participants from 16 countries attended this year’s event.

The main topic of discussion was the challenges faced by eastern European broadcasters in delivering access services and complying with EU directives.

Jaanus Lillenberg from ERR Estonia and Ernest Strika of HRT Croatia both discussed the financial and technical obstacles they struggle with.

MEP Sabine Verheyen was also present at the meeting to better explain the roadmap of the European Union. She pointed out that all Europe's citizens had the right to access audiovisual content: “From what I see today, public service media organisations give a great deal of attention and importance to making their programmes available and accessible to all segments of society,” she said.

“They certainly go the extra mile and innovate when it comes to devising subtitling, signed programmes, audio description and audio subtitling which enable sensory challenged people to access valuable audio and audio-visual content all over Europe.”  

As a member of the European Parliament’s Culture and Education Committee, Sabine Verheyen was closely involved in the adoption of the Directive on the Accessibility of Public Sector Body websites, which is still under discussion. She told the Experts group: “When setting EU-wide standards on public service media organisations, we need to make sure that the quality of their accessibility services is not levelled-down. They have to respond to a very diverse set of needs. In fact, they already fully live up to the provisions of the Audiovisual Media Services Directive.”

The meeting also welcomed a wide variety of other speakers. Jurgen Lentz, the head of subtitling at Dutch Member NPO, presented the system of automatic speech recognition used on their programmes. ORF’s Eva-Maria Hinterwirth reported on the successful Eurovision Song Contest sign project, an new initiative which allowed nearly a million sensory disabled people to enjoy the world’s biggest music event in a very inclusive way.

David Padmore from Ericsson showed how they sign programmes with deaf interpreters and the International Telecommunications Union discussed the shared goals they have with the EBU.

Nigel Megitt (BBC) and Andreas Tai (IRT), co-chairs of the EBU-TT group (EBU Tech) gave an update about ongoing EBU-TT group activities and the new opportunities for access services offered by HBBTV 2.0.

The group also suggested that the EBU provide a pan-European programme with international sign language to enable public broadcasters to reach specific audiences.

Gion Linder, chairman of the group said “I am proud that we were able to host a high-profile panel of speakers. The big number of participants emphasizes the importance of access services for public broadcasters: Access Services are first and foremost not a duty but an asset for public broadcasters.”

This year’s event included a visit at VRT access Services studios in Brussels on the 12th.

The 2016 Access Services Experts Meeting will take place on November 2nd in Berlin.


Contact detail

Amélie Rossignol-Farjon
Project Manager, Digital
+41 22 717 2422