Ofcom has confirmed that it is to implement minor changes to the competition rules in the Electronic Programme Guide (EPG) Code.
On-screen guides – known as EPGs – help people plan their viewing and discover new programmes.
The way an EPG is designed and the way viewers interact with it can have a significant influence on the programmes they choose to view.
Ofcom’s EPG Code requires EPG providers to treat television channels and allocate slots in a fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory way.
Ofcom is required, by law (The Digital Economy Act 2017 introduced the requirement), to review this Code by 1st December.
In a statement, Ofcom noted that; “This review found that our existing rules are working well, and we proposed to make only minor amendments to them.
“Taking account of feedback to our consultation, we are now confirming these changes – namely to require that consultations conducted by EPG providers on their channel listings policies must be transparent and provide reasonable timeframes for parties to comment and implement any changes.
“Our revisions to the EPG Code apply with immediate effect.”
Key Points & Findings
Linear TV is still widely watched and valued, and EPGs are an important way to access this content. There has been a huge change in how we engage with media since the EPG Code was issued in 2004. People are increasingly going online to access a variety of content and creating their own. Nonetheless, linear TV is still widely watched, and EPGs remain an important way to find linear TV programmes.
Competition rules are still required. In our view, it remains necessary to have rules in place on licensed EPG providers to engage with channel providers on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms. This is to ensure that licensees do not enter into or maintain arrangements or engage in a practice which we would consider to be prejudicial to fair and effective competition. Stakeholders agreed with our provisional findings on the continued need for competition rules. We conclude it is more appropriate to have these rules rather than to solely rely on our powers under the Competition Act 1998.
The existing rules are working well. We have concluded that minor amendments to the existing rules are appropriate, which stakeholders broadly support. We now additionally require that consultations by EPG providers follow a transparent process and include reasonable timeframes both for channel providers to comment and for implementation of any changes to listings. Our decisions take immediate effect.
The full findings from Ofcom can be downloaded here.