Channel 4 has confirmed subtitles and other services will finally return to its programmes – but it’s likely this won’t be until mid-November.
The broadcaster has received intense criticism since subtitles, audio description and sign language interpreters on programmes disappeared, meaning hearing and visually impaired viewers have struggled to enjoy programmes for several weeks now.
In a statement released today, Channel 4 revealed these services would be reinstated next month.
The outage began on Saturday September 25, when the fire suppression system was triggered at Red Bee Media’s broadcast centre, which transmits all Channel 4’s services. As a result, systems were severely damaged, which significantly impacted the playout servers which meant channels and on-demand services were temporarily taken off-air.
While the channels returned to air, the broadcaster is still plagued by significant issues in regards to its access services, with many livid with the lack of communication on when such services will return.
In an update today, Channel 4 insisted its ‘engineers have been working around the clock to find out what went wrong and how we can fix it’.
It went on: ‘Unfortunately, at the moment we cannot provide audio description or sign language services at all. These services were irretrievably lost during the incident and we won’t be able to restore them until we move to the new system we are building.
‘So, we have focused on a solution for subtitles. This is a complex job, as a large number of different systems at Channel 4 and beyond have to talk to each other to make this work. Until now, all testing has been overnight as we couldn’t risk coming off-air again.’
It added it was testing subtitles on More4 and Channel 4 during the day while Friday’s Stand Up 2 Cancer had live subtitles. From this week, Gogglebox, the Great British Bake Off and its Extra Slice on All 4 will also have subtitles.
Conceding ‘we know this isn’t good enough’ Channel 4 explained it was building a new system to enable these access services.
The statement continued: ‘We have been rebuilding the system over the last few weeks, and there is still a considerable amount of work to be done. We cannot rush this and run the risk of something going wrong.
‘Something like this needs to be installed slowly to ensure our channels don’t come off air and to prevent something like this happening again. That means that full access services might not be available until the middle of November. Clearly, if we can do anything to speed up this process, we will.
‘We know that this will be incredibly disappointing to everyone, but we do need to get this right. In the meantime we will continue to put our most popular programmes that you have missed, with subtitles on All 4.’
Around 500 people have complained to broadcasting regulator Ofcom about the outage, with many people who use the access services livid with the lack of communication around the situation.
Jo Rose, an Outreach Worker at Signal and Deaf British Sign Language (BSL) user, who spoke to us with her interpreter, Abbie Knight, previously told Metro.co.uk: ‘Everyone’s in the dark as to what It’s going on and it’s almost feeling like deaf people don’t matter.’
They pointed out if the issue was instead a lack of sound, ‘the reaction would be totally different’ and added: ‘Where’s the equality in that respect?’
Jo went on to say: ‘Sometimes I think they feel like with it being on TV programme we can follow body language or we can rely on other factors, but realistically without subtitles we can’t really do anything.
‘The deaf community are really angry with this and no one seems to be taking it seriously, it can’t be answered really as to why no hasn’t been taking it seriously.’
Credit: Original article published here.