PSBs may get better EPG slots

The UK government’s forthcoming communications green paper (draft law) will suggest broadcasters who commit to showing more public service programmes such as news and children’s programmes could be rewarded with a higher slot on digital TV EPGs.

Ed Vaizey, the broadcasting minister, said the regulatory implications of the scheme will be researched by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. Speaking at the Oxford Media Convention Vaizey said: “We need to find new ways to reward public service broadcasters who invest in UK content and perhaps also to broaden our definition of what a public service broadcaster is…… We are keen to explore….the potential for government to encourage investment in UK content through the electronic programme guide, as a lever.”

“At present the EPG, though statutory, is governed by a code of practice which is policed by Ofcom. The main PSBs are meant to be given appropriate prominence, but the broadcasters have some discretion, and Ofcom does not have the power to prescribe or guarantee a specific position.”

He added: “In addition, many channels not currently defined as public service broadcasters invest in UK content that could fall within the traditional definition of public service content – obvious examples are news, current affairs, children’s television documentaries and quality drama. So we need to look at whether the prominence rules could be used to reward those who invest in that kind of content.”

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