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Ofcom finds channels guilty of Access Services Shortfall

a picture of judge judy

Ofcom has ruled against a request that Judge Judy should be exempt from audio description.

The judgment formed part of a investigation into three channels - CBS Reality, Boomerang and Cartoon Network - who were found to have fallen short of the UK's Access Services Code.

The Access Service Code requires qualifying broadcasters to offer subtitles and/or audio description, a tool that helps the blind or visually impaired follow the course of a programme.

CBS Reality was due to provide audio description on 10% of its programmes. But Ofcom found it had only done so for 6.9% of its output during the past year.

CBS argued that the channel's main programme, Judge Judy, which accounted for 29.4% of the entire channel's output for 2017, was "by its very nature" an audio described programme, and should be granted a technical exemption.

Ofcom took a dim view, and rejected the request for an exemption, finding the channel in breach of rule 14 of the Access Code.

Meanwhile, children's channels Boomerang and Cartoon Network were supposed to have offered subtitles on 53.3% of their programmes last year, but Ofcom found Cartoon Network had only offered 51.6% of its programmes with subtitles, while Boomerang fell even further behind with just 47.6% of programmes subtitled in 2017.

Turner Broadcasting Ltd, the company behind both channels, blamed "human error", but said it was confident it would meet the requirements for 2018. Nevertheless, Ofcom found the channels in breach.