The European Broadcasting Union (EBU), the European Disability Forum (EDF), and the Association of Commercial Television in Europe (ACT) have made a common proposal to improve the accessibility of audiovisual media services for persons with disabilities.
Broadcasters and the umbrella organisation of the European disability movement reached this agreement upon the initiative of the Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Petra Kammerevert, who is preparing the European Parliament's report on the revision of the Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMSD).
EDF, EBU and ACT (the “signatories”) expect these measures to enhance the accessibility of TV programmes for persons with disabilities, in particular via subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing, audio description, spoken subtitles and sign language interpretation, also known as access services.
The common proposal aims to improve existing wording on audiovisual accessibility under Article 7 of the 2010 Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMSD), which EU legislators are currently reviewing. A large number of stakeholders and EU decision-makers have highlighted the need to maintain and develop the AVMSD's provisions on access services.
MEP Petra Kammerevert (S&D, DE), newly elected Chair of the Culture Committee and co-rapporteur on the European Parliament’s report on the Directive, must be credited for her encouragement to stakeholders to work together and for kick starting initial discussions. Signatories call on Members of the Parliament and Council to support this proposal in their ongoing discussions towards a finalised text.
Rodolfo Cattani, EDF Secretary General, stated: “Persons with disabilities have the right to enjoy audiovisual content as anybody else, and that is why the AVMSD has to make sure that the programmes, both broadcasted and on-demand, incorporate access services. If adopted, we will be closer to a fully inclusive media environment. However, we still need to cover the accessibility of the equipment, information, and gateways to this content, such as TV equipment, electronic programming guides, websites and mobile applications, in other EU legislations”.
EBU European Advocacy Adviser Jacques Lovell stated: "Europe's Public Service media is committed to offering programmes for all segments of society. Making sure that persons with disabilities can follow TV programmes is very important. By supporting this common proposal, we hope that public service broadcasters can build on their track record in the area of audiovisual accessibility and continue innovating to offer state-of-the-art subtitling, audio-description and sign-language interpretation."
Grégoire Polad, Director General of ACT in Europe, stated: “This agreement pays testament to the fact that by working together stakeholders can develop consensual and balanced outcomes. Commercial broadcasters in Europe are keen to get their content to all Europeans developing innovative and user-oriented accessible services in the process. The agreed approach is ambitious yet proportionate; allowing for a sustainable and bright future for EU access services”.
The text agreed between EBU, ACT and EDF is available for download in the right-hand column.