Provide translations in the languages of significant audience segments


In multilingual populations there may be a significant number of viewers whose first language, and the only one they are fluent in, is different from the language of the programme. To fully understand and enjoy the programme content, they will need to be provided with a translation in some form.

Directions and techniques

Provide interlingual subtitles, dubbing or lectoring in the required languages

Language translations should be provided in one of three forms: interlingual subtitles, dubbing or lectoring. See the introduction to this section for definitions of these terms.

Viewer’s preferences should be taken into account. In some regions, viewers are used to one technique or the other and may have a preference for it simply because it is more normal. In regions where dubbing is common for example, subtitles may be associated with hearing impairments and viewers may be prejudiced and resistant to interlingual subtitles. Conversely, in regions where dubbing is not used, viewers often think of dubbing as something that destroys the atmosphere of a programme and may therefore prefer interlingual subtitles.

Technical constraints may help determine the choice. Depending on the delivery system, it may not be possible to include multiple closed subtitle streams or alternative audio streams for viewers to choose between.

Production and delivery costs also need to be taken into account. The production of alternative audio tracks is different from the production of text subtitles. The cost and availability of skilled translators, subtitlers and voice-over actors may depend on which technique is more commonly used for language translation in the region.

For programmes aimed at very young children, use dubbing or lectoring in preference to subtitles

Children under the age of 6 who cannot yet read in their mother tongue need dubbing or lectoring in order to follow a programme.