The world is more connected than ever, and media content travels across borders almost instantly. This global interconnection has necessitated the expansion of services like subtitling and closed captioning service, which are vital for ensuring universal access to multimedia. In light of this, it is crucial to understand the legal requirements imposed by different countries concerning these services.

United States:

In the United States, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) sets the rules for subtitling and closed captioning under the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010. The FCC mandates that all English and Spanish language video programming aired on television must be closed captioned, with few exemptions like late-night programming, music videos, or channels that produce less than 50% of their content. In addition, digital platforms such as Netflix and Amazon Prime must provide closed captioning for all full-length video programming delivered through IP.

European Union:

Across the pond in the European Union, the European Accessibility Act introduced in 2019 standardizes requirements across EU countries, mandating that all services, including TV and on-demand broadcasts, must be accessible to people with disabilities. This means that broadcasters must provide closed captioning, subtitling, and audio description services. The directive places the onus of offering these services on video-sharing platforms.


In Australia, the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 outlines requirements for television broadcasters. Commercial television licensees must caption all television programs transmitted between 6 am and midnight and all news or current affairs programs. The Australian Subscription Television and Radio Association (ASTRA) also sets out requirements for subscription television captioning.

United Kingdom:

The Code governs the UK on Television Access Services developed by the Office of Communications (Ofcom). Ofcom has established best practices for subtitling, sign language, and audio description. All public service channels, including those on digital terrestrial media, satellite, and cable, must provide subtitles for 80-100% of their content, depending on their audience reach.


In Canada, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has outlined closed captioning standards in Broadcasting Public Notice 2007-54. It mandates that all English and French language broadcasters must caption 100% of their programming during the broadcast day, including commercials, promos, and unscheduled news.


Japan’s Act on the Elimination of Discrimination against Persons with Disabilities requires that broadcasters make reasonable efforts to provide closed captions, including for news and emergency broadcasts. In addition, the Act also mandates subtitling and sign language interpretation for specific programs.


In India, the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act 2016 necessitates provisions for subtitles in television programs for hearing-impaired individuals. While implementation is slow, the Act has set the foundation for comprehensive accessibility regulations in the media industry.

To wrap up, ensuring universal access to multimedia is a collective responsibility. Adhering to these legal requirements is not just about compliance; it’s about extending the reach of media content and breaking down barriers to access. Businesses involved in content creation and distribution must stay updated with these regulations to ensure they align their practices with the global goal of accessible media content.


Given the dynamism of regulatory landscapes, it is also essential for businesses to actively monitor updates and changes to accessibility laws in different jurisdictions. Legal requirements will only become more stringent as societies strive for greater inclusivity; thus, understanding these requirements now is the first step towards a more accessible world.


Leave a Reply

Avatar placeholder

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *