HC Deb 25 May 2004 vol 421 cc1547-8W
Lembit Öpik

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (1) if she will request that Ofcom include a requirement for a periodic review of the ordering of channels on electronic programme guides (EPGs) in its new code of practice for EPG providers; and if she will make a statement; [174670]

(2) what assessment she has made of the impact of television channels' positioning on the electronic programme guides on viewer choice; what steps she intends to take to ensure that EPG providers facilitate a reordering of channels disadvantaged by their EPG listing; and if she will make a statement; [174671]

(3) what discussions she has had with Ofcom about the role of the electronic programme guide in promoting fair competition between the UK 24-hour news sources on digital television; and if she will make a statement; [174672]

(4) what discussions she has had with Ofcom about whether the new electronic programme guide code will include a requirement for a review of channel ordering on the EPG; and if she will make a statement. [174673]

Estelle Morris

The regulation of electronic programme guides is a matter for Ofcom and therefore I have not had any detailed discussions with them on this matter.

Under section 310 of the Communications Act 2003, Ofcom has to draw up a code giving guidance as to the practices to be followed in the provision of electronic programme guides. Ofcom must review and revise this code from time to time.

In their consultation on this issue, Ofcom stated that they "intend to review the code at intervals of no more than two years, or more frequently if circumstances warrant it". They proposed that the code should require "all EPG providers to have an objectively justifiable method of allocating listings" and stressed that "this does not preclude different methods"—for example, objectively justifiable methods could include, "first come first served" listings, alphabetical listings and those based on audience shares.

In their consultation on the regulation of electronic programme guides, Ofcom state that "discriminatory treatment of a channel in terms of listings or presentation would constrain its ability to compete effectively with other channels for audience share and advertising revenue and would thus be prejudicial to fair and effective competition".