Electronic Programme Guide (EPG) Accessibility Report 2024

Published: 20 May 2024

‘EPG’ stands for Electronic Programme Guide, sometimes referred to as a ‘TV guide’. It's an onscreen menu that tells users what TV programmes are available on their television and allows them to navigate to different channels and programmes.

EPG providers are required to produce an annual statement of the steps they have taken and plan to take to facilitate the use of their EPGs by disabled people. The EPG Code sets out practices they should follow.

We report here on EPG accessibility as at 30 November 2023, summarising the extent to which EPG providers offered the accessibility features set out in the EPG Code: ‘text to speech’ functionality; highlighting or filtering of content with audio description or signing; text magnification; and high-contrast displays. For more detail (including on accessibility features beyond those required by the Code), see the individual reports submitted by EPG providers (links below).

  • Both Freeview (provided by Everyone TV) and Virgin Media continued to offer all the required accessibility features. All Freeview Play devices now offer some version of the ‘Accessible TV Guide’ (available via channel 555) and the proportion of these including text to speech (TTS) has increased to 75%.
  • Sky continued to offer three of the features, with the launch of the fourth – magnification – planned for 2024.
  • Freesat (acquired by Everyone TV – formerly Digital UK – in 2021) lags behind Freeview, with accessibility currently reliant on devices’ existing accessibility functions. Devices offered only two of the features (filtering/highlighting and high-contrast displays) but Everyone TV plans to implement software updates to Freesat G3 set-top boxes which will introduce additional accessibility capabilities.
  • At the reporting date, YouView had made no progress in moving beyond the two accessibility features (magnification and high-contrast displays) previously offered. However, since the end of the reporting period, YouView has launched the EETV app with BT for Apple TV, with its navigation guide supporting Apple’s text-to-speech capability. YouView acknowledges the potential consumer benefits of highlighting/filtering and continues to explore the technical and commercial feasibility of rolling out this functionality to the most recent YouView set top box models.

We welcome the ongoing steps being taken by providers to make their EPGs more accessible. After amendments to the EPG Code in 2018, we would now expect all providers – as set out in the EPG Code – to be using reasonable endeavours to secure so far as practicable that their EPGs include all four accessibility features. In future reporting, if any of these features are not available, we expect providers’ statements to explain how they have used reasonable endeavours and why this has not been practicable.

We welcome measures taken by some providers to introduce accessibility features in relation to services not currently covered by the EPG Code (for example Freely, Sky Glass, Virgin Media Stream) and to drive awareness of accessibility features (for example Everyone TV’s campaign to raise the profile of the Freeview Accessible TV Guide).

While regulated EPGs remain a key tool for viewing audiences, they are no longer the only way in which audiences discover, navigate and access television. Government is considering updating which EPGs are regulated in the UK and the Media Bill currently passing through Parliament contains accessibility requirements in relation to certain connected TV interfaces giving access to on-demand television apps. We will work with Government to ensure that disabled people are able to navigate to and access content whatever route they choose.

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