It’s a giant step forward for the deaf and hearing impaired communities on February 1st 2012, when SKY Television launches closed captioning on 13 popular channels.
SKY has been working on the launch of captioning for several months; the project required considerable technical design as well as investment in hardware and software to enable closed captions on the following 13 channels: Animal Planet, Disney Channel, Disney Junior, TCM, TV1, TV2, TV3, Cartoon Network, Crime & Investigation, Discovery Channel, Nickelodeon, UKTV and National Geographic.
It’s a service SKY is pleased to offer, Chief Executive Officer John Fellet commented:
“This is a service we’ve long wanted to offer to SKY customers but have held off offering until now while we tried to gain funding from New Zealand On Air, as TVNZ and TV3 currently do. I know this new service will be very valuable to the deaf and hearing impaired - while it is a niche audience, it’s a step towards more equal access and we are delighted to offer it”.
Closed captioning information will be displayed on the on-screen electronic programme guide (EPG). Viewers can elect to enable closed captions for a single programme, or make a global setting to show closed captions whenever they are available. Viewers can even search for content screened with closed captions.
Last year a Captioning Working Group was formed, with members from the National Foundation for the Deaf (NFD) and Deaf Aotearoa. Louise Carroll, NFD’s Chief Executive Officer and Captioning Working Group Chairperson welcomed this initiative, saying;
“We are absolutely delighted with SKY’s decision to provide captioned programmes on 13 channels. This is a huge step in improving access to over 700,000 hearing impaired and deaf people in New Zealand.
The limited number of captioned television programmes and movies, made internationally and in New Zealand, is an on-going access issue for people who are deaf and hearing impaired. We congratulate SKY Television in removing this barrier to access for many Kiwis and we strongly encourage broadcasters to consider the needs of all viewers equally.”
SKY will continue to evaluate the viability of providing further captions on additional content and channels as the information becomes accessible.
Closed Captions are available on MY SKY decoders. SKY Digital decoders can display closed captions through Teletext if the television supports Teletext.
SKY Television is New Zealand’s pre-eminent pay television operator, offering a wide range of sports, movies, music, on-demand and general entertainment content across more than 110 channels. As of 26 August 2011, SKY had 836,622 subscribers).
SKY launched as a three-channel UHF service in 1990, with two further channels added four years later. SKY’s UHF signal reached more than 83% of the country’s 1.5 million households. In December 1998 SKY launched a digital satellite service, extending its reach to the whole country. More than 47% of New Zealand homes subscribe to SKY. The analogue UHF service closed down on 10 March 2010.
SKY also offers pay-per-view movies and live events and is the cornerstone shareholder in Fatso, New Zealand’s premier online DVD rental service.
In July 2008 SKY launched MY SKY HDi, a new High Definition decoder and PVR with Dolby Digital surround sound. SKY currently offers nine 1080 High Definition television channels (SKY Sport 1, 2 and 3, ESPN, SKY Movies and SKY Movies Greats, TV3 HD, TVONE HD and TV2 HD) to subscribers.
In February 2011, SKY launched iSKY, an online TV service that delivers SKY subscribers five live streaming channels, catch-up TV from 20 channels and an iSKY store offering online rental of premier and library movies and TV series.
On 8 February 2006, SKY completed the purchase of the New Zealand television business of PRIME Television Ltd giving SKY the opportunity to showcase its channels and programmes whilst ensuring that New Zealand consumers can view delayed free-to-air sports programmes such as rugby, rugby league and cricket in primetime
For further information please visit the web sites www.sky.co.nz www.skysport.co.nz www.isky.co.nz www.primetv.co.nz