New Zealand to Pilot Video Description on Digital TV in 2011

September 1, 2010. According to COAT International Friend, Media Access Australia, New Zealand has announced that it will conduct a trial of video description on digital TV in 2011. NZ On Air, the government agency that funds captioning services in New Zealand, recently announced that it will spend $500,000 (NZ$) for this new initiative. Over 75,000 New Zealanders have a sight limitation that cannot be corrected by glasses or contact lenses and will benefit from the trial.

This closed video description service will use new digital set-top boxes to decode and play the video description for TV viewers who are blind.The initial service is expected to be on one TV channel, TV One, and consist of imported description. Description of local programming has been identified as a future priority.

“Access to broadcasting is a human rights issue," said Clive Lansink, President of the Association of Blind Citizens of New Zealand. "Like it or not, television plays a huge part in people's lives and now it is possible for the television industry to include us more in their audience. We know that audio description available on some of today's movies has given people who are blind or whose sight is just not what it was a chance to enjoy movies in a whole new way. This development will let us gain the same full enjoyment from today's television programmes and we congratulate NZ On Air, Government and TVNZ for their initiative."