Insights Ofcom publishes report on the accessibility of broadcast and on-demand services covering January to December 2019


Ofcom says that its annual reports allow industry and consumers to measure progress and compare accessibility across television services. The reports set out the proportion of traditional broadcast and on-demand services with subtitles, audio description or signing.

In 2019, all traditional broadcasters met or exceeded their requirements. Many channels far exceeded them, particularly for audio description.

Ofcom says that the picture for on-demand accessibility remains more mixed, with results broadly in-line with last year’s report. Just over 58% of on-demand providers offered subtitles on at least one of their services while around 17% offered audio description and just under 13% offered signing. Where access services were supported, just over half of programming hours (51.2%) were subtitled, around 10% were audio described, and 1.5% were signed.

There is currently no legal requirement on providers of on-demand programming services to make their content accessible to people with hearing or visual impairments. This differs from broadcast television services, where broadcasters must achieve specific accessibility targets.

The Digital Economy Act 2017, however, paved the way for on-demand accessibility requirements, and Ofcom has set out its initial recommendations to the UK Government to inform its draft regulations. The regulator will be adding more detail and making further recommendations via a second consultation which it expects to publish in the coming months. To access the report, click here. To access Ofcom’s recommendations to the Government, click here.