Under new Ofcom rules ( Broadcast , 29.7.04), about 70 channels have been told that they will have to provide on-screen subtitling, signing and extra soundtracks on their programmes.
Five was informed that it would need to supply 80% of its content with on-screen subtitling and signing by 2008 - business believed to be worth more than £1m.
The deal means that the BBC will be supplying access services to both Five and Channel 4 for at least the next four years. BBC Broadcast recently signed a five-year deal to provide tailored services on all of C4's offerings.
Visual signing is filmed with British sign language interpretation for hearing-impaired viewers. Audio description is an ancillary service for the visually impaired that uses a voice track to detail what is happening on screen. The audio description and subtitling services are located in BBC Broadcast's new technology centre in west London.
Meanwhile, Chris Howe has become the first BBC Broadcast chief technology officer to be appointed to the board. Howe joined the BBC in 1989 from Marconi.
Also, BBC Broadcast used IBC to transmit its first ever DTT HD pictures. Preview material of Planet Earth was sent from London to the RAI exhibition centre. Planet Earth is the BBC's first tapeless and high-definition project and is currently in production at the Natural History Unit in Bristol.