Red Bee Media has signed one of its most significant access services deals to date, securing a contract to supply BSkyB with live and prerecorded subtitles.

Under the five-year deal, the West London media management firm will provide about 30,000 hours a year of live subtitles for Sky News, Sky Sports News and Sky Sports 1-4.

It will also produce approximately 4,000 hours of pre-recorded subtitles for channels including Sky 1, Sky Atlantic and Sky Living. Red Bee will subtitle 70% of programmes on the channels, rising to 80% over the length of the contract.

Red Bee director for access services and editorial David Padmore said: “The work doesn’t have the same complexities as BBC, where we are dealing with multiple nations and regions, but it is a very significant contract and a major bit of new business.”

Red Bee takes over the contract from current supplier Independent Media Support (IMS) from July.

Padmore declined to say how many staff were likely to move from IMS to Red Bee, but said “positive discussions” were taking place.

Red Bee will initially take over the subtitling operation at Sky’s Osterley base before the operation BSkyB: Red Bee will initially take over subtitling at Osterley offices is moved to Red Bee’s premises and the company’s soon-to-launch live subtitling platform Subito.

“We have invested the best part of £2m in Subito, which uses the latest speech recognition and stenography technology, and seeks to maximise the ability to automate aspects of live subtitling by using scripted material or reusing text that has already transmitted. It will boost accuracy and reduce latency,” said Padmore.