Captions, audio descriptions and signed shows are unlikely to be available to Channel 4 viewers until mid-November, after an incident in September severely affected the broadcaster’s production.
A month after a blackout at Red Bee Media’s head office in West London, which also caused transmission problems for BBC and Channel 5 broadcasts, accessible programming remains unavailable. More than 500 complaints have been registered by Ofcom.
In its latest statement, Channel 4 apologized for the problem, saying it had realized that it was “incredibly frustrating” for viewers and engineers to work “around the clock” to resume service. normal. However, due to the scale of the underlying technical issues, he said closed captioning and other accessibility services may not be available until the middle of next month.
During the September 25 incident, channels including Channel 4, More4, Channel 5 and S4C were cut. BBC One and BBC Two were also affected, but they were able to upgrade to a backup.
It was reported that activating a fire alarm at the Red Bee broadcast center in White City, west London, resulted in server outages. In its statement, Channel 4 clarified that “the fire extinguishing system was triggered… As a result, a large number of hard drives in various systems were severely damaged. This had a significant impact on the broadcast servers, resulting in the temporary removal of our channels and on-demand services. “
Although the broadcaster was able to resume the scheduled broadcast the next day, technical flaws continued to hamper programming. E4 was particularly affected on September 30, when an episode of Married at First Sight broadcast the day before was accidentally repeated, instead of the series finale.
The ensuing lack of accessibility measures angered many viewers with sight and hearing problems, who were unable to watch their favorite shows. Mark Atkinson, executive director of the Royal National Institute for Deaf People, said television was “a key part of our culture, the basis of everyday conversation with friends, family and colleagues.
“But for more than three weeks, the 12 million deaf or hard of hearing people in the UK have felt left out and increasingly angry that the closed caption and signed content system is down. It is impossible to imagine that a failure that affected the hearing community continues for so long.
“The BBC and Channel 5 now provide near normal service, but it is unacceptable that the system could have failed so dramatically and that Channel 4 still has not fixed the problem. [Furthermore] there has been a widespread failure to communicate with deaf people on a regular and – most importantly – accessible basis.
“We are delighted that since we met them last week, Channel 4 has started providing UK Sign Language updates to the deaf community. They should ensure that people who are deaf and hard of hearing are kept informed of the actions they are taking until the problem is resolved.
Deaf journalist and activist Liam O’Dell said his reaction to the latest Channel 4 news was mixed. “This is welcome in the sense that after weeks of deaf people calling for a delay in re-establishing access services, we now have a rough estimate. The concern, however, is that it will be around two months after the initial incident, meaning the number of shows that deaf viewers will have to find time to catch up will be overwhelming.
“After weeks of poor communication from Channel 4, I hope they will now provide regular updates on their progress towards this goal, to reassure deaf viewers like me who are rightly frustrated and distressed.”
Channel 4 said it was starting to introduce subtitles to some programs on its on-demand service All 4 this week, but it was “a very laborious process, so it is not possible to make all the programs available. available simultaneously… We know that. isn’t good enough, but it’s a start.