The Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation says yes to audio subtitling

Audio subtitling is now established as a permanent service in Norway.

Story by: Magne Lunde - 09.09.2008

Audio subtitling plays TV subtitles as synthetic speech, giving visually impaired people and others with reading difficulties, access to subtitles. The subtitles are converted to synthetic speech on a PC at the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation and then distributed through the Corporation's mainstream network.

Active campaign

Since the start of the audio subtitling project in 2006, MediaLT in collaboration with the Norwegian Federation for the blind has worked actively to persuade TV companies to establish audio subtitling as a service. The Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation was positive to this from the start, but the final yes was a long time in coming.

Digital television

The facilitation of audio subtitling required investment in new software, and it seemed most appropriate to wait for the introduction of the new digital television network in Norway. Moreover, it was important to ensure that there was a receiver on the market able to receive audio subtitling

Starting date not decided

At the time of writing, the start date for audio subtitling has not been decided but is likely to be some time during the autumn. Moreover, it is still uncertain whether the purchase of a new receiver or TV will be necessary to receive audio subtitles, or whether existing equipment can be used. This will depend on the method of distribution. MediaLT is working for a universal solution that enables you to receive audio subtitling regardless of whether you have parabola, cable TV or antenna, and that existing equipment can be used. Contact Magne Lunde if you need advice about the choice of equipment.


Svein Prestvik in the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation has been an important partner for MediaLT in this project, and should acknowledged for the work he has invested to achieve the breakthrough for establishing the service. MediaLT will now work actively to get TV2 and TV Norway to follow suite, and in this way help to ensure that visually impaired enjoy greater advantages of television

Next - Audio description?

The next goal is to achieve audio description of TV broadcasts and films. Audio description describes visual interactions so that visually impaired and others who have difficulty  interpreting images know what is going on. Audio description can be deployed in the same way as audio subtitling and thus there is no technical obstacle. Audio description however, requires human resources for the preparation and reading of the comments. The cost of an audio description service will therefore be considerably higher than audio subtitling. However compared to the cost of a TV or film production, the extra expense is small. MediaLT in collaboration with the Norwegian Federation for the Blind is working to introduce audio description as a permanent service in Norway, in the same way as texting for the deaf.

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