Access to TV content: competition regulation and a review of market dynamics

30 November 2020

On-screen TV guides, or electronic programme guides (EPGs), enable viewers to find and select TV programmes on broadcast or linear TV. In 2004 we introduced rules for EPG providers to follow in a dedicated Code, the EPG Code.

The Digital Economy Act 2017 introduced a duty for Ofcom to review this Code before 1 December 2020. We are reviewing the requirements on EPG providers to ensure fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory treatment of channel providers, having recently reviewed the prominence and accessibility parts of the EPG Code.

There has been huge change in how we find and watch TV programmes since the rules were imposed 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 TV programmes. Our review considers whether competition rules are still required to support fair and effective competition.

Alongside this review, we are also looking at how increased smart TV ownership, better broadband and more on-demand services may be changing market dynamics. We commissioned a report on this from Mediatique. This is not a formal consultation nor part of our EPG Code review but we would welcome views from stakeholders to inform our understanding of how markets are evolving.

We have concluded that it is necessary to have rules in place on licensed EPG providers to engage with channel providers on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms. The existing rules are working well and following consultation we have concluded that only minor amendments are necessary. In particular, we now additionally require that consultations by EPG providers follow a transparent process and allow reasonable timeframes both for channel providers to comment and for implementation of any changes to listings. The revisions to the EPG Code (PDF, 203.6 KB) take immediate effect.