Channel 4’s subtitles, signature and audio description are not expected to return to TV until mid-November, nearly two months after a catastrophic failure.
The hiatus, which has already lasted more than three weeks, angered deaf, hard of hearing and visually impaired viewers.
More than 500 people complained to the broadcasting regulator Ofcom.
The failure occurred on September 25 when a fire suppression system destroyed hard drives at a transmission center.
An emergency backup subtitling system also failed. The channel is building a new system from scratch and has said it will fix the problem faster than its current mid-November forecast if possible.
The incident at the Red Bee Media-owned broadcasting center also affected other broadcasters such as the BBC and Channel 5, although their services have been restored.
“Channel 4 would like to apologize to viewers for not currently being able to provide access services,” a statement read. “We realize how frustrating it is for our viewers.”
The broadcaster will begin offering subtitles for its biggest shows like The Great British Bake Off and Gogglebox on its All4 online fetching service from this week.
However, the channel cannot provide any audio description or sign language services. “These services were irretrievably lost during the incident and we will not be able to restore them until we move to the new system we are building,” he said in an update posted on Tuesday.
He added: “We can’t rush and run the risk of something going wrong. Something like this needs to be installed slowly to ensure our channels don’t air and to prevent something like this from happening again.
“This means that full access services may not be available until mid-November. Clearly, if we can do something to speed up this process, we will.”
Mark Atkinson, managing director of the hearing loss charity RNID, said: “For more than three weeks, the 12 million people in the UK who are deaf or have hearing loss have felt excluded and increasingly angry, because the system for providing subtitles and signed content is broken.
“It is impossible to imagine that a failure affecting the hearing community could go on for that long.
“The BBC and Channel 5 are now offering almost normal service, but it is unacceptable that the system could have failed so spectacularly and that Channel 4 has not yet solved the problem. Also, there has been a general error in reporting to deaf people regularly and, above all, in an accessible way.
“We are delighted that Channel 4 has started providing British Sign Language updates to the deaf community. They need to ensure that deaf and hard of hearing people are informed about the steps they are taking until the problem is resolved. Resolved”.
An Ofcom spokesperson said: “We expect Channel 4 to meet the deadlines set for the restoration of these vital services.”
A spokesperson for Red Bee Media said: “Things are getting better every day and we are able to deliver more and more accessible programs, but sadly we are still having problems with media reception for which our access teams create pre-recorded subtitles, audio descriptions and signature.
“As soon as there are more updates, we will share them.”
The original mistake temporarily stopped broadcasting Channel 4, Channel 5 and S4C completely and led to broadcast problems in the following days, such as E4 being forced to delay the Married At First Sight series finale.
On October 8, host Adam Hills addressed the issues on Channel 4’s The Last Leg, holding a handwritten sign that read “Sorry, no subtitles yet,” followed by another that read ” Fix it. “
The Times reported that the Red Bee headquarters fire system sucked all the oxygen out of a room, causing a “sound wave” that shut down the broadcast servers.
A spokesman for the London fire brigade said: “On Saturday 25 September, firefighters were called to report that a gas suppression system had been activated in a building on Wood Lane in White City.
“The suppression system was activated in a server room and the engineers on site worked to ventilate the room. The firefighters carried out a search of the building and a sweep of the room, but found no apparent fire.”
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