Programme subtitling, programme accessibility

Public media services and media service providers with significant power of influence are required to make specific programmes accessible; accordingly, in Hungary it is currently the television channels Duna, Duna World, M1, M2, M3, M4, M5, TV2 and RTL Klub that are required to make programmes accessible for people with impaired hearing by providing subtitles or sign language interpreting. The law mentions specifically news programmes, public service announcements, political programmes, political advertisements and programmes about people with disabilities as programmes that must be made accessible.

The purpose of the provisions in Article 39 of the Media Act is to enable hearing-impaired viewers, in the spirit of equal opportunities, to enjoy and understand the informational, entertainment and educational television programmes intended for wide segments of the public. The media service providers use primarily teletext subtitles; the ratio of programmes with sign language interpretation is negligible. The subtitles must be in sync with the audio and capture accurately what is being said. The subtitles of programmes that are not prerecorded are expected to be reasonably accurate and simultaneous. Abbreviated summaries of what was being said in a programme may constitute subtitles only if the length of the subtitles would otherwise make it impossible to follow the content. Prior to broadcasting a subtitled programme, the media service providers shall state that the programme is also available with subtitles using the teletext service of the channel.

Each month, the Authority checks compliance with the statutory obligation of making programmes on the aforementioned channels accessible for people with impaired hearing. The official audits are conducted by coders with impaired hearing, some of whom rely on the subtitles to confirm what was covered in the programme. If the Authority discovers any infringement of Article 39 of the Media Act, it will impose a fine of tens of thousands of Forints on the media service provider for each infringement, thus promoting compliance with the statutory requirements.