Accessibility, a strategy for promoting non-hegemonic languages on TV
Conference name
9th International conference Media for all
Kilborn (1993: 659) affirms that "audiences will be more prepared to accept that some form of language transfer method will frequently be the key to gaining access to a range of programming hitherto denied them". As language technologies have been developed, the possibility of guaranteeing audiovisual accessibility has been simplified. However, although television stations offer subtitling or even the original audio through their second audio channel, they do not do so because they consider it useful for the promotion of languages, including minority languages. In fact, after recognizing the right of people with sensorial disabilities to enjoy audiovisual content, the way supplying the content in an accessible way was regulated has changed, not only for people with such disabilities. However, some public televisions have not developed linguistic strategies for the promotion of languages by means of affordable technology.

It is the aim of this presentation to show linguistic strategies or policies in the case of countries where hegemonic languages and minority languages coexist. We also attempt to highlight the value of linguistic accessibility as a strategy for promoting non-hegemonic languages on television. In Finland, for example, the television channel YLE offers subtitles in both Swedish and Finnish (MCG, 2007: 124), thus respecting the country's two official languages. Norwegian public television, meanwhile, offers subtitles in the minority Sami and Kven languages. The Welsh language television channel S4C subtitles in Welsh an average of 13 hours daily. Unsurprisingly, "the Welsh language subtitling service is aimed at Welsh learners as well as Welsh speaking, deaf or hard of hearing viewers, learners and those who lack confidence in speaking Welsh, to enjoy the programs on S4C" (S4C blog).

In the Spanish state, the Catalan channel TV3 subtitles almost all of its programming (Rovira-Esteva & Torr-Carroggio 2019: 35). In the Basque Country, Basque Public Television (ETB) offered interlingual subtitling when it started, and in 1993, “Spanish subtitles were definitively discarded on the Basque channel” (Larrinaga, 2008). It was not deemed necessary to continue guaranteeing linguistic understanding, although this would have favored an approach of people with limited or no understanding of the language.

Currently, with the help of technologies applied to language, intralingual subtitles are offered in both Basque and Spanish on the ETB channels. Unlike S4C, ETB has not developed a language strategy to guarantee accessibility. In fact, the offer of subtitles does not imply the use of linguistic criteria to broadcast in either language. Along these same lines, the generalist television networks of the Spanish State offer external productions in their original language through the second audio channel, which they seemingly only do because it is technically possible, without following a defined strategy (TVE, 2016).

This presentation aims to show that the combination of technologies and linguistic strategies offer us an opportunity to facilitate the promotion and visibility of non-hegemonic languages, and that it should be taken into account when defining television language policies.
Submitted by Estibaliz Cabañes on Mon, 05/06/2023 - 14:27