TELEVISION stations are now required to use subtitles in all their broadcasts for the benefit of hearing-impaired viewers of news and current affairs programs and entertainment shows.
The legislation that requires television networks to use the closed captioning system has lapsed into law as Malacañang took no action on the legislation 30 days after it was forwarded for enactment on June 20, Sen. Grace Poe said yesterday.
Republic Act No. 10905 or The Closed Caption Law, which obliges television stations to use the subtitling system that transcribes spoken lines and describes nonverbal elements in television programs, will take effect 15 days after publication.
The use of the closed captioning system is already widely observed in countries such as the United States, where viewers have the option to turn the feature on or off. “One of the objectives of this legislation is to provide our hearing-impaired access to news, entertainment and information in promoting their welfare,” said Poe in a statement.
The former chair of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) is the principal author of the measure as chair of the Senate committee on public information and mass media in the last Congress.
She said giving the hearing-impaired access to television programs would fulfill the Philippines’ commitment to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2008, which states that “there should be full accessibility and recognition of the linguistic and cultural identity of persons with disability.”
In introducing the measure in 2014, Poe cited data from the Philippine Statistics Authority, which places the population of hearing-impaired Filipinos at 1.4 million as of 2009. Of this number, 241,624 are deaf, 275,912 are partially deaf, while more than half a million have limited access to information as they are hard of hearing.
The law requires “all franchise holders or operators of television stations and producers of television programs to broadcast or present their programs with closed caption options.”