BSLBT was set up in 2008 as an alternative way for independent broadcasters to meet their regulatory duty to provide programming in British Sign Language (BSL). For more information please read: http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/consultations/signing/statement/plain/
BSLBT was initially established as a private company, with a Board of Directors drawn in equal numbers from the broadcasting world and from the Deaf community. In January 2012 it achieved charitable status, retaining the commitment to an equal mix of Deaf and hearing Trustees.
Its charitable objectives are:
The promotion of social inclusion among the Deaf community who are socially excluded from society, or parts of society, as a result of being deaf by encouraging, supporting and developing the provision of broadcasting of sign-presented content (in any media) for the members of the Deaf community.
Independent broadcasters with between 0.5% and 1% of audience share can choose either to source and broadcast programmes presented in sign-language themselves or to contribute £20,000 each per year to BSLBT to make programmes in sign language for the Deaf audience.
BSLBT’s income in 2011 was £1 million, and contributions from broadcasters are expected to remain broadly at this level for the foreseeable future. Having secured charitable status, opportunities now exist to seek additional funds to expand BSLBT’s work in line with its mission.
Track Record of Achievement
Within its first five years of operation, BSLBT established an impressive track record of commissioning high-quality programmes for broadcast to the Deaf community. Commissions have ranged across genres including drama, sports, children’s programmes and chat shows. The quality of the output has been recognised with a number of awards.
Programmes are broadcast in regular weekly timeslots, known as the BSL Zone, on the Community Channel and Film Four and are available on Freeview, Sky and Virgin Media platforms. They can also be viewed any time here on our website.
BSLBT is held accountable by Ofcom for the delivery of signed broadcast programming and this arrangement is reviewed periodically. At the last review in 2010 Ofcom gave unqualified support for the work BSLBT had achieved and for its continuation.