EBU NEWS published on 03 Nov 2016 • Department / Unit Media Intelligence

Access Services plenary explores growth of services and challenges

More than 55 experts from 17 EBU Members came together for the annual Access Services plenary meeting in Berlin on 2 November.

The event was hosted by RBB/ARD at the invitation of the Eurovision Access Services Experts bureau represented by Gion Linder, Head of SWISS TX and Frauke Langguth, Head of ARD Text.

Delegates shared knowledge, best practices and experiences and found out about new services, tools and ongoing projects designed to meet access services needs. 

Gion Linder presented the results of the survey on Access Services of public broadcasters across Europe, conducted by the EBU’s Media department, Media Intelligence Service and Access Services bureau. 

The survey showed that, overall, EBU Members have increased access services significantly and that public service broadcasters across Europe are aware that access services are a distinctive feature not provided by competitors in most countries. The greatest progress was observed in audio description: numerous EBU Members have introduced this service for the blind or greatly increased the number of available programmes.

Among the various topics discussed included the differences in subtitling techniques and signing in different countries. Most countries sign news programmes rather than subtitle. Methods of subtitling vary from DVB to teletext.

The plenary discussed the challenging costs of providing access services especially for broadcasters in small countries where the cost can be up to 1.23% of their annual budget.

A special session presented by Jacques Lovell, European Advocacy Adviser for the EBU, focused on the EU Accessibility Act.

The inclusion of audiovisual media services in future EU legislation on accessibility requirements for products and services has emerged as one of the main issues in discussions aiming to amend and adopt the draft legislation at the European Parliament and among EU Member States. The EBU has adopted a lobbying position on this future legislation aiming to remove audiovisual media services from the scope of the Directive.

Other sessions focussed on speech recognition and live subtitling and heard case studies from RTP in Portugal and ARTE. Delegates heard about the ARTE Europe project, jointly financed by the European Union, which offers 600 hours of magazines, documentaries and shows subtitled in English and Spanish every year.  

Professor Ingo Bosse from the Technical University of Dortmund, Germany also discussed the research his institution is undertaking in examining how people with disabilities use the media to provide recommendations on concrete measures for the full access of media offers.

The plenary also included a visit to the live-subtitling service at ARD Text in Postdam and a guided tour of RBB Berlin.