Should it be compulsory for TV listings to feature the BBC, ITV and Channel 4 first?

A new law is being debated that would secure the top spots in Electronic Programme Guides for public service broadcasters but their commercial rivals, and the government, think it's unfair


Does it matter what order TV channels appear in the listings?


Traditionally on electronic programme guides (or EPGs), BBC1, BBC2, ITV and Channel 4 take up the top four slots, and now a change to the law is being debated that could make it compulsory for them to stay there.

These public service broadcasters (PBS) argue that with the proliferation of new channels, as well as subscription services like Sky which increasingly include options for viewers to personalise their homepages, there is a danger of PBS channels becoming harder to find.

Examples of this trend cited by the BBC include the fact that on Sky’s channel listings, children’s TV stations CBeebies and CBBC are listed below many American cartoon networks.

“Some pay-TV platforms are already making ‘free to air’ services harder to find,” wrote James Purnell, the BBC’s director of radio and education, in the Daily Telegraph. “This isn’t about forcing people to watch public service programmes, or stopping viewers watching American shows we love. It’s about making sure you can find them easily.”

However, Sky has said that the networks are acting in “blatant self-interest”, while the government argues that with more choice than ever for viewers it would be “anti-competitive” to protect the likes of ITV, Channel 4 and the BBC in this manner.


Do you think channels from the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and other commercial stations should be given priority in TV listings? Vote in our poll below: