Channel 4 has confirmed that access services for those with disabilities – including subtitles – are unlikely to return to its broadcasting until mid-November.
The channel has been having major technical issues following a fire alarm at a broadcast centre in White City, London, at the end of September that temporarily caused its services to go off air for hours or, in some cases, days.
But while things have largely returned to normal, a statement released today confirmed there are still issues bringing back subtitles, audio descriptions and sign language aides.
Channel 4 has confirmed it is working on the problem, but it’s unlikely subtitles will return until at least November.
“On Saturday 25 September, the fire suppression system was triggered at Red Bee Media’s broadcast centre, which transmits all Channel 4’s services,” the statement read.
“As a result a large number of hard disks in a variety of systems were severely damaged. This significantly impacted the playout servers which meant that our channels and on-demand services were temporarily taken off-air.
“We immediately activated our emergency back-up system, and while our channels are back on-air, we are still trying to fix some significant problems.”
Confirming that one of the major issues is the access services for the deaf, blind and hard-of-hearing, the channel continued: “We know that this is incredibly frustrating for you and your families who rely on these services to watch your favourite programmes.
“The reason is that when we activated our emergency back-up, the system that should have provided subtitles failed.
"Since then, our engineers have been working around the clock to find out what went wrong and how we can fix it.
“Unfortunately, at the moment we cannot provide audio description or sign language services at all.
"These services were irretrievably lost during the incident and we won’t be able to restore them until we move to the new system we are building.”
Confirming it is currently focusing its efforts on the inclusion of subtitles, Channel 4 added it had successfully put in a new system that allowed subtitles throughout its live Stand Up To Cancer event on Friday.
“The damage caused by the incident has meant that we have had to build a completely new system,” the broadcaster continued.
“Not only will this enable our channels to move back out of disaster recovery, but it also means we will be able to provide subtitles, audio description and sign language services as well.
“We have been rebuilding the system over the last few weeks, and there is still a considerable amount of work to be done. We cannot rush this and run the risk of something going wrong.
“Something like this needs to be installed slowly to ensure our channels don’t come off air and to prevent something like this happening again.
"That means that full access services might not be available until the middle of November. Clearly, if we can do anything to speed up this process, we will.”
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