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Communications Act 2003

Section 310: Code of practice for electronic programme guides

654.OFCOM must draft and maintain a code of practice for the provision of electronic programme guides (EPGs). This must ensure that EPG providers give the listing and/or promotion of the programmes on public service channels an appropriate degree of prominence, as determined by OFCOM. This obligation also applies to the means of selecting and accessing the programmes on these channels from an EPG.

655.These obligations are expressed by reference to “intended audience” (defined in subsection (7)). This has the effect that, where the provider of a public service channel provides the channel in regional versions, in any given region the channel’s most prominent EPG listing will be occupied by the programmes provided for that region. Programmes on the other regional versions of that channel will usually be found listed further down the EPG.

  • *an “electronic programme guide” is defined, for the purposes of this section, in subsection (8) as a service which comprises (i) the listing and/or promotion of some or all of the programmes included in any one or more programme services the providers of which are, or include, persons other than the provider of the guide and (ii) a facility for obtaining access, in whole or in part, to the programme service so far as it is promoted or listed in the guide.  As at the date of Royal Assent, the only EPGs available are principally visual services.  However, the Act has been drafted to provide for EPGs whether their features are wholly visual, or a combination of sound and vision, or even (if they are developed) EPGs that operate wholly in sound.

656.The code must also ensure that providers of guides comply with any decision of OFCOM that specified features should be incorporated in the guides in order to (i) help people who have disabilities affecting their sight and/or hearing to use the guides for the same purposes as they are used by those without such disabilities and (ii) ensure that such people are informed about and are able to use any assistance provided for them in relation to the programmes listed and/or promoted.

657.For the purposes of these provisions the public service channels are the BBC’s television services in digital form, any Channel 3 service in digital form, Channel 4 in digital form, Channel 5 in digital form, S4C Digital, and the digital public teletext service. Subsection (5) provides the Secretary of State with a power to amend this list by order, though she must not do so without consulting OFCOM (subsection (6)).

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