Annual monitoring to establish the status quo and developments of accessible offerings in private television constitutes an important building block in die Medienanstalten’s commitment to improving options for participation in the media. These regular surveys have been conducted since 2012 and have had a considerable steering effect.
Although aspects of subtitled shows in private programmes still demonstrate clear room for improvement: The broadcasting companies with the widest coverage, RTL and ProSiebenSat.1, have steadily expanded their activities in this area in the last years.
The main monitoring results are published annually in the media authorities’ content report.
Within the ERGA (the European Regulators Group for Audiovisual Media Services), die Medienanstalten has also intensively dealt with the topic of accessibility. The ERGA report on this subject, published in November 2016, gives an overview of respective initiatives for improving accessibility audiovisual offerings for people with disabilities in the individual EU member states.
Media usage of people with disabilities
In the past, numbers to show how people with disabilities actually use media were not available. A study conducted by die Medienanstalten and the organisation Aktion Mensch changed this. It was the first to depict all types of disabilities in all of Germany in relation to media usage:
- Which media offerings do people with disabilities use?
- Which of these are particularly appealing?
- Where do the major access barriers lie?
The largest standardised survey in this subject area so far was conducted by the Technical University of Dortmund in cooperation with the Hans Bredow Institute for Media Research. The results of the research project were first publicly presented in October 2016 as part of the Munich Media Conference.
They verify that television is the most-used medium for people with disabilities. The high functional status of television also makes the usage motives clear: Aside from information, fun, and relaxation, the specific usage motive of “being able to contribute to the conversation” holds top priority. People with disabilities are still excluded from many media offerings and therefore at times cannot join the conversation when friends or colleagues are talking about television programmes – also and especially about popular, entertaining formats.
“People with disabilities are still excluded from many media offerings.”
More accessibility in television therefore not only represents an important social goal but also opens up new viewer groups to broadcasting stations. What is clear is that a market for accessible offerings definitely exists, and media creators should work on developing this more strongly.
The topic of accessibility will continue to be a top priority in the work of the media authorities – in conversations with broadcasters and associations as well as regular communication with government representatives responsible for the needs of disabled people. Die Medienanstalten will also continue to ensure that private broadcasters further their efforts within this important area.