It is the first international acquisition for Red Bee, which will use existing debt facilities set aside by its new owner, Macquarie, to fund the acquisition, which will be completed by the end of this year.
The ACC provides subtitling, language translation and video services for big Australian television broadcasters and subscription television channels. It also has clients in Europe, North America and Asia.
Red Bee offers subtitling, signing and audio description for the BBC; subtitling for C4; signing and audio description for Five; and subtitling for the National Geographic Channel. One benefit of acquiring ACC is that it means 24-hour subtitling is more achievable as some of the subtitling can be done in Australia for the UK.
Since Ofcom's ruling last year that broadcasters would have to increase their output of subtitles, signing and audio description, the captioning and subtitle business has become a sought-after add-on for technology companies.
Subtitling can cost a broadcaster anything from£200 to£400 an hour. Costs are slightly cheaper in Australia, where stenographers' rates tend to be lower.
Red Bee chief executive Pam Masters said the acquisition would help expand the business into new markets, such as Asia, and new areas, such as mobile, broadband, IPTV and navigation.
The acquisition will add to Red Bee's Access Services division, which features 10 live subtitling suites in Broadcast Centre and produces around 50,000 hours of subtitling a year.
Meanwhile, post-production group VTR is in the pre-launch phase of a subtitling software system, eTitle, which was exhibited at this year's IBC conference.
The software is being beta-tested by a VTR subsidiary, post-production facility TMR, and will be fully launched in mid-2006. The initiative was funded by a£900,000 European Union grant.