Decode and record content access services when they are included with a programme


If content access services are provided with programmes, viewers will need equipment that can decode them and provide a way to activate or deactivate them during viewing, including with recorded programmes.

Content access services are often used in a communal or family setting. The availability of access services through a television or set top box can make it more ‘family friendly’. A2008 survey carried out by the Royal National Institute of Blind People found that whilst many blind and partially sighted people watch television alone, 60% also watch in a communal setting with other people. One survey participant commented:

"There are two different ways that I will watch TV; one is with the family where we’ll find something that we all want to watch, or we’re just relaxing so it could be a gardening programme or something, or a wildlife documentary. That’s one way and in those cases audio description really enhanced that enormously from what it used to be because it would normally be stuff that I wouldn’t necessarily have chosen
to watch, but we’re just together."

Access services may be switched on and off by different family members, depending on the needs and preferences of whoever is watching at the time. It is therefore very useful if these features are easy to activate and deactivate on a programme by programme basis.

Once activated, users will usually want the access service to remain activated when the programme or channel changes or when they power down the receiver. To have to reactivate them with every programme change would be tedious and would make it very difficult to switch between programmes and channels. Even to have to reactivate the setting every time the receiver is switched on or has its software upgraded would be an unnecessary burden.

One of the most popular features of a digital television service identified in the survey of Irish television users is the ease with which a programme, or series of programme can be recorded. It is essential for the enjoyment of recorded content that access services can also be recorded with the programme

Directions and techniques

Decode standard content access services (high priority)

The receiver should have the capability to decode content access services that are provided in a format specified within the broadcast technology standard it receives. For example, the DVB (Digital Video Broadcasting) standard used in Europe, the ATSC (Advanced Television Systems Committee) standard used in North America and Korea, and the ISDB (Integrated Services Digital Broadcasting) standard used in Japan and South America each includes a specific format for the encoding of subtitles. The receiver should be able to decode and correctly display subtitles encoded in the format relevant to the standard it uses. It should also be able to decode other access services and supplementary audio services if the broadcasting standard specifies a format for them.

Enable users to easily activate and deactivate individual content access services (high priority)

A button for closed subtitles can be labelled S. In regions where subtitles for people who are deaf or hard of hearing are called ‘captions’, it would be more approriate to label it CC which stands for closed captions. A button for audio description can be labelled AD. The words Subtitles, Captions and Audio Description can be used as labels if they can fit legibly within the design of the remote control.

Remote 1

Figure 11. Remote control with ‘AD’ and ‘CC’ buttons for activating and deactivating audio description and closed captions (subtitles for people who are deaf or hard of hearing).

If it is not possible to include dedicated buttons for each access service, a single button can be provided, with an option within a set-up menu to change its function from one access service to another, for example from subtitle activation to audio description activation.

Retain content access service settings over time (high priority)

Content access service settings should be stored in a way that ensures they persist over time, across programme or channel changes, after powering up and powering down and after automatic software upgrades.

Allow users to record content access services along with the programme (high priority)

Equipment that enables programmes to be recorded should provide a facility to record access services along with programmes. This can be user configurable to allow maximum flexibility in trading off the anticipated future need for access services and the amount of data storage required. A flexible solution giving maximum control to the user would be to provide a global setting with the following options:

  • Always record all access services;
  • Always record specified access services only (allowing the user to make multiple selections from a list of all access services);
  • Record whatever access services are activated at the time of recording;
  • Ask at recording time which access services should be recorded;
  • Never record any access services.