Channel 4 subtitles outage breached licence, Ofcom regulations | Channel 4

Channel 4 breached the prerequisites of its broadcast licence by way of failing to offer sufficient subtitled programming to a few audience in autumn 2021 after a sonic growth destroyed apparatus used to broadcast its programmes, the media watchdog has discovered.

An investigation by way of the media regulator Ofcom concluded that Channel 4, which is underneath danger of privatisation, breached its licence prerequisites when a hearth alarm brought about the sonic growth to wreck laptop servers.

Ofcom stated that at the night time of 25 September, a hearth alarm activated at a published centre run by way of Red Bee Media, a non-public corporate that specialises in “playout” products and services for British broadcasters. The fireplace alarm device used to be designed to briefly cut back the oxygen stage within the space throughout the liberate of nitrogen fuel this is saved underneath top drive. Unfortunately, this additionally created a sonic growth that broken many laptop servers past restore.

Red Bee acts as an middleman on behalf of lots of the UK’s tv channels, taking the knowledge recordsdata for every programme and mixing them with subtitles and related technical knowledge. It sends the mixed knowledge move onwards for transmission to folks’s houses thru Freeview, satellite tv for pc and cable tv products and services.

While the BBC and Channel 5 have been additionally suffering from the hearth alarm incident, they have been ready to revive products and services fairly briefly by way of the use of well-established backup procedures. However, Channel 4 maintained its personal crisis restoration facility that used to be now not in a position to offer subtitling and audio description products and services. It took till November for those to be absolutely restored, making it tough for hard-of-hearing and deaf audience to observe many programmes.

Ofcom famous the incident used to be “unprecedented” however discovered the “prolonged outage” of the broadcaster’s subtitling, signing and audio descriptions supposed Channel 4 provider “fell short of the statutory requirement to subtitle 90% of its programme hours over 2021 on the Freesat service”.

The media watchdog stated it additionally discovered the broadcaster had breached every other licence situation by way of failing to successfully be in contact with the ones affected audiences after the incident.

The incident is especially awkward for Channel 4, which prizes inclusivity by way of broadcasting the Paralympics and different programmes prominently that includes disabled people.

A remark by way of the broadcaster stated: “Channel 4 is very disappointed with Ofcom’s decision and will review its findings carefully. We would like to apologise once again to our audiences for the disruption to our access services following the catastrophic incident last September and since then we have implemented a number of new systems and processes to avoid a serious incident in the future.”

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