In a stinging rebuke from government insiders, Channel 4 has been warned to focus on delivering basic services rather than lobbying ministers over its proposed privatisation. The channel’s failure to provide subtitles, audio description, and sign language for nearly three weeks has raised serious concerns about its internal priorities, according to sources close to culture secretary Nadine Dorries. Since a fire scare at its west London offices on September 25, Red Bee Media, the company that handles the channel’s playout services, has not fixed a major technical fault. Channel 4’s own back-up plan for disabled viewers, it is understood, has also failed. In an embarrassing rebuff by one of the station’s own disabled stars, Adam Hills, host of late-night comedy The Last Leg , held up a sign saying “sorry there’s still no subtitles” followed by “sort it out” on air last Friday. “Accessibility should be a priority, and we are now very concerned about the matter,” a government insider told i : “Channel 4 needs to take a hard look at its priorities..”
It’s not just about Channel 4’s diversity of viewpoints; it’s also about how it prioritizes providing the service that customers expect. “It would serve viewers better if it spent more time fulfilling its statutory obligations and less time lobbying the government,” says
Last week, Ofcom warned that channels that fail to meet access requirements could face regulatory action, including large fines.
Channel 4 has stated that it is working to resolve the issues as soon as possible. “We are deeply sorry that our programs are still unavailable with subtitles, audio description, or sign language support,” a spokesman said.
“We understand how critical these services are, and how frustrating it must be for viewers who are unable to watch their favorite shows.” For Channel 4, resolving this problem is a top priority. ”
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