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28

Clause 18, page 19, line 1, at end insert 'in relation to each service provided under the licence'.

Lord Inglewood: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendments Nos. 27 and 28. I spoke to these with Amendments Nos. 13 and 19.

Moved, That the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendments Nos. 27 and 28.--(Lord Inglewood.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

COMMONS AMENDMENT

29

Clause 19, page 20, line 14, after 'services' insert 'and qualifying services'.

Lord Inglewood: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 29. I wish to speak also to Amendments Nos. 30 to 35 inclusive. I intend, with your Lordships' permission, to speak at slightly greater length than I have done on the amendments immediately preceding this one because the issue gave rise to much debate during our deliberations in this House.

When the Bill left this House, it provided that the ITC, after consultation with bodies representing those with sensory impairments, would set out requirements

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for assistance in a code. However, following debates in another place, we have been persuaded of the case for putting targets on the face of the Bill to act, from the outset, as a strong signal to broadcasters. The aim of the Government's amendments is therefore to establish targets on the face of the Bill, set at a realistic level and applied to programme rather than multiplex providers.

Amendment No. 30 provides that by the tenth anniversary of the introduction of any digital programme service: not less than 50 per cent. of non-excluded programme hours broadcast in any programme service should be subtitled to such technical standards as are specified by the ITC; and not less than 10 per cent. of non-excluded programme hours broadcast should be presented with audio-description.

These target percentages will be amendable by order. They will be incorporated into the ITC's code, conformity with which will be a licence condition for all digital programme service licence holders. The ITC will monitor broadcasters' progress towards meeting these requirements during the lead period to ensure an ongoing commitment to their achievement.

In the light of the strength of argument, the Government reconsidered the position regarding sign language provision. The Secretary of State announced in another place during Report stage that she intends to introduce by order a 5 per cent. target for sign language at the earliest possible opportunity.

The ITC will identify, in consultation with broadcasters and bodies representing the interests of those with sensory impairments, any types of programming for which it would not be practicable to require the levels of subtitling, audio-description or sign language interpretation set out in the Bill. It will do this only after consulting bodies representing people with sensory impairments and broadcasters. It will then be able to set lower, achievable targets for such programmes. These exclusions will be the exception--I emphasise that--rather than the rule: the majority of programmes should be subject to the targets set out on the face of the Bill.

The Government also recognise that there are currently no requirements on Channels 3, 4 or 5 regarding sign language or audio-description. They therefore intend to apply the new code and targets to their digital simulcast qualifying services. This is given effect by subsection (1J) of Amendment No. 30.

I believe that these proposals represent real gains for viewers with sensory disabilities. Our proposals also recognise that many different types of programme service are likely to be broadcast on digital television, and provision of subtitling, signing or audio-description at the same level will be extremely difficult for some of these programme types. This is an important point. We must allow the necessary flexibility for a range of new services to develop on digital, otherwise the successful launch of digital terrestrial television will be jeopardised, with the loss of services to all viewers.

Moved, That the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 29.--(Lord Inglewood.)

Lord Donoughue: My Lords, the Government's amendment represents a slight slippage in the optimum

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achievements that were at one point in the Bill. However, I should like to take a positive rather than a negative approach. The progress made, represented by the amendment, is considerable and is much appreciated by the people concerned. I know that my noble friend Lord Ashley, who worked so hard and did so much to achieve what is in the Bill, accepts the practicality of the compromise.

Lord Thomson of Monifieth: My Lords, we are in the not totally unusual position of agreeing with the Minister and the noble Lord, Lord Donoughue.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

COMMONS AMENDMENTS

30

Clause 19, page 20, line 20, at end insert--


'(1A) In this section "assistance" means assistance of any of the following three kinds, namely--
(a) subtitling for the deaf,
(b) audio-description for the blind, and
(c) presentation in, or translation into, sign language.
(1B) The code must require that, as from the tenth anniversary of the date of the commencement of the provision of any digital programme service, in each week--
(a) at least 50 per cent of so much of the service as consists of programmes which are not excluded programmes in relation to subtitling for the deaf is to be accompanied by such subtitling, and
(b) at least 10 per cent of so much of the service as consists of programmes which are not excluded programmes in relation to audio-description for the blind is to be accompanied by such audio-description.
(1C) The code must specify--
(a) in relation to subtitling for the deaf, those classes of programmes in relation to which the Commission consider that it would be inappropriate for the requirement in paragraph (a) of subsection (1B) to apply, and
(b) in relation to audio-description for the blind, those classes of programmes in relation to which the Commission consider that it would be inappropriate for the requirement in paragraph (b) of that subsection to apply.
(1D) If an order under section (Powers of Secretary of State in relation to code about provision for deaf and visually impaired)(1)(b) is in force, the code must also specify, in relation to presentation in, or translation into, sign language, those classes of programmes in relation to which the Commission consider that it would be inappropriate for the requirements specified in the order to apply.
(1E) In determining under subsection (1C) or (1D) whether it is appropriate for a particular requirement to apply to any class of programmes, the Commission shall have regard, in particular, to the benefit which the assistance would be likely to confer on the persons for whom it is intended and to the technical difficulty of providing it.
(1F) In this section "excluded programme", in relation to assistance of a particular kind, means a programme falling within a class specified under subsection (1C) or (1D) in relation to assistance of that kind.
(1G) Without prejudice to the generality of subsection (1), the code may--
(a) require persons providing digital programme services, at any time or times before the anniversary referred to in subsection (1B), to meet specified targets in relation to subtitling for the deaf or audio-description for the blind,

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(b) require a specified percentage of so much of any digital programme service as consists of programmes which are not excluded programmes in relation to presentation in, or translation into, sign language, to be so presented or translated, and
(c) require, in relation to assistance of any kind, a specified percentage of so much of any digital programme service as consists of excluded programmes falling within a specified class to be accompanied by assistance of that kind.
(1H) In subsection (1G) "specified" means specified in, or determined by the Commission under, the code.
(1J) Subsections (1B) and (1G), so far as relating to audio-description for the blind or presentation in, or translation into, sign language, shall have effect as if any reference to a digital programme service included a reference to a qualifying service.
(1K) The Commission may determine that, for the purposes of any provision included in the code in pursuance of subsection (1B), a digital programme service provided by any person is to be treated as a continuation of a digital programme service previously provided by him.'.
31

Page 20, line 21, leave out 'subsection (1)' and insert 'this section'.


32

Page 20, leave out lines 25 and 26.


33

Page 20, line 31, at end insert--


'(4A) In this section--
"programme" does not include an advertisement;
"qualifying service" does not include the qualifying teletext service.'.
34

After Clause 19, insert the following new clause--


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