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back to article UK economy to lose £198m if BBC and pals lose EPG slots - Ministry of Fun

The evolution of channel surfing risks sidelining public service broadcasters such as the BBC and ITV, and has prompted the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (aka the Ministry of Fun) to work out how much a prominent position on our Electronic Programme Guides (EPGs) is worth. Legislation covering channel placement on EPGs …

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Really. £198M ?

That's about what they spunk on EDS/HP/Whatever they're called today for a bloody meeting, isn't it?

Facepalm.

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Alien

Re: Really. £198M ?

Does it really matter that much which way the shite that is UK television, these days, is listed?

Extraterrestial icon 'cause televisual shite falls upon us from the Sky, too..

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Pint

Re: Really. £198M ?

@Ged T:

Too bloody true. There is ALWAYS something better to do than watch TV.

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Too late for me. I don't pay much attention to the channel anyway. I just surf the EPG and if I see something I like I mark it to record. Don't really care who the broadcaster is.

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Exactly my thoughts.

I don't watch channels, I watch programmes. What channel a programme is on is irrelevant to me.

I usually find the programme by searching, (tablet or on-line rather than via the EPG).

So then it's just criteria: Where does it air first, is it HD or not. Pick programme to record, series link if applicable.

Only watch pre-recorded, skip all adverts, (I already pay for the TV, which should I watch the ads as well!?).

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Only watch pre-recorded, skip all adverts

Same here. It's a habit. I even record F1 races from Sky although I usually start watching within ten minutes of the race start anyway :)

I can tell an advert is coming up even if I'm not paying attention and will automatically reach for the remote. I wish Sky boxes had a +30 seconds like my Freesat box though.

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Well, that's the point. When you surf the EPG you start at either channel 1 or the channel you were watching. By the time you have gone through 20 channels you have probably lost the will to live and will watch any old shit.

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When ithere only were 5 channels, I would settle for the least bad option. With page after page of crap on the EPG, I generally just turn the TV off and put the radio on instead.

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Make use of the Favourite Channel options

I have all my frequently watched channels down as favourites so I dont have to wade through page after page of dross to get to where I want to go.

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FAIL

Re: Make use of the Favourite Channel options

Same here. HD only where applicable and no +1's in sight.

The anachronism though is that you still get the list in the order of the EPG. With all the processing power in those boxes why can't I sort them into the order *I* want them in?

Back in the days of analogue Sky boxes I could tune the channels in my chosen order. Then all singing all dancing digital came along promising all kinds immortality, wealth and health for everyonie but can I fuck sort my choice of channels into the order I want them in.

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popularity

When any of channels stuck down the arse end of the epg can get audience levels like ITV and BBC, that's when the authorities should start to ponder whether the rules need changing.

TV shopping channels get low audiences and it's not because they haven't got an epg slot in the first 10 numbers.

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Re: popularity

part chicken, part egg

argos.tv would get low ratings wherever it was, but there's every chance that, say, Justified, could get higher ratings than 24 hours in a&e if it had similar prominence in the listings.

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Re: popularity

It's got fuck all to do with popularity. My old man forked out for a HD TV, a Freesat HD box, but he never ever watches HD content. He mainly watches BBC 1 and 2, which are channels 101 and 102 on Freesat. He never goes beyond the first page to find BBC 1 HD (108) or BBC 2 HD (109). The popular channels are popular because they are on the first page of the EPG, even when better quality equivalents of those channels exist elsewhere in the EPG.

It's even worse for me on Sky. The first channels are 101 and 102, BBC 1 and 2. The HD versions are at 141 and 142, which is blessedly a relief - they used to be 141 and 169 IIRC.

Either way, if you're just paging through the channels, you have to go past 40-50 channels of shite to find it. OK, its not all shite, but it is all add filled till you reach 141.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: popularity

Not really. There is an HD tab on the EPG you know. Having said that, since I no longer watch any TV I really don't know why I keep up my Sky sub. I used to watch the F1 racing, but the whole things become so sterile and clinical these days that that's not even worth paying an HD Sky sub for. And in any case the GP season is almost over, all that's left are Bernie's Boring Revenue Makers.

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Re: popularity

Exactly!

On Freesat HD if I select BBC1 it will tell me there is an HD version of the same program and give me the option to select it.

On Sky I tend to watch (or record) non HD BBC programs because the HD version is hidden away on another tab and I keep forgetting but if you look at Sky Sports and Movies all the HD channels come first followed by their lesser equivalents

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Re: popularity

There is an HD tab on the EPG you know.

Not necessarily. The presentation of the EPG is specific to the TV hardware. My 3-year-old TV has no such feature. Unlike the rather older model it supplanted, the favourite channel feature is so bad that I never use it.

So I rarely watch in HD.

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FAIL

Re: popularity

Yep, there is an HD tab on the Sky EPG. BBC 1 HD is on the third page of results…

Mine was for the cricket, then they got the F1 and I have to keep up the subs all year round :(

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Facepalm

Re: popularity

Quote:

My old man forked out for a HD TV, a Freesat HD box, but he never ever watches HD content . . .

Unquote.

Sounds like he's wasted a lot of money on new TV equipment he has no intention of using properly then.

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Re: popularity (Formula 1 sterile)

God, how dull is F1 ?

Recently BBC showed Le Mans Disaster of 1955 and some other progs about 1950s and 1960s racing.

Beautiful cars, the drivers, the sounds, the photography, the drama.

Today --ugly cars, robotic sponsor-pleasing drivers. And TV just makes everything look slow.

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Re: popularity (Sky HD option?)

Isnt the an option in the sky boxs to replace all SD channels with their HD equivalents? So when you select 101 you still end up with BBC1HD.

Disclaimer I only have freesat and this is a hazy memory from playing with the In-laws skybox.

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Facepalm

Re: popularity (Sky HD option?)

"Isnt the an option in the sky boxs to replace all SD channels with their HD equivalents?"

IIRC, the default setting on most TVs and set top boxes is to show the transmitted picture in the correct aspect ratio. Yet I still see people watching 4:3 transmissions stretched to fill a 16:9 screen and appear to happy with that even when you point out the short fat people on the screen,

What's the odds of those same people being able to tell if they are watching SD or HD or know how to choose, let alone find a menu option to automatically find the HD version for them?

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Indeed, the key to getting an audience is to show something people want to watch, that has a habit of making people find your channel where ever it is. Moving the channel location isnt going to make people watch something they havnt bothered to find anyway.

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Not strictly true - there are a number of channels out there which benefit from location - being next to a popular channel on an EPG can drive a degree of 'footfall'. With lower production costs, there are a number of channels out there that operate on quite small audiences. I used to work for one company which did ok(ish) out of that (albeit parasitic crap TV...) and one of the advantages it had was its EPG listing. Sky then decided to rationalise the EPG listing (eg move Sky's competing channel into a good EPG slot and move ours to a lesser viewed area) which killed a huge amount of the audience number. Amazingly, OFCOM etc weren't bothered about this abuse when it was a small operator who got trashed but when its good old auntie...

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How are the losses calculated?

£198m how exactly is that loss calculated for the BBC? The bbc gets our money, uses it end of story. The UK side of the business isn't revenue generating. Whether anyone watches is not part of that equation, we're all forced to pay the tv license.

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Re: How are the losses calculated?

£198m is clearly a figure placed at the top of the report to warn any discerning reader that the rest of the report was pulled out of someone's backside too.

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Bring back telewest...

Back in the day you could re-order the channel list in the (analog) EPG.

I was most miffed when they took that away.

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Unhappy

Re: Bring back telewest...

Indeed! I suppose it is yet another case where things get crappier over time ( Damn you, Richard Branston! ). If I can't re-order the channel list, I would at least like to delete/hide the channels that I normally have to skip through (e.g. everything except BBC1,2,3,4 ITV, Chan 4 (incidentally, Channel 4, I am still waiting for Straw Dogs that you promised me when you started broadcasting), Chan 5, Dave, Yesterday). I don't have HD because Virgin Media cannot even do SD without artifacts and freezing.

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Re: Bring back telewest...

I would at least like to delete/hide the channels that I normally have to skip through"

All of VMs boxes let you do that. Just add the channels you like to the "favourites".

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New Fangled Television

This might have been useful back in the 90s, where Ceefax existed and you had to wait 20 minutes to see what was on channel 44, but now? Seriously? I barely use the television, preferring on demand and my fondleslab/smartphone/ultrawhotsit And if I need to see listings, it's quicker to get my mobile out of my pocket and ask siri than to try and find the flippin remote and work out how the thing wants to work today...

Lots of money for an utterly pointless and meaningless investigation for a system which belongs squarely in the last century - of course the government are falling over themselves to pay for it - it's an IT project that cannot possibly fail (there, I've jinxed it for them)

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Re: New Fangled Television

Hahaha, you said 'ask siri'.

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WTF?

no-one uses the LCN anyway

The channels on the my EPG page1 are the there because I put the channels I watch there, being 1st didn't cause me to watch them. And the list changes over time.

My wifes PVR has a slightly different channel order because she put the channels she watches 1st.

My fathers PVR has a completely batshit crazy channel order with the channels he watches 1st.

My mother just ignores the EPG and just keys the LCN numbers. What a pity they keep changing them.

This would appear to be another 'imaginary problem', there's no decoder worth using that forces ordering by LCN and I struggle to believe many leave them ordered as it comes, if only because that's an unusable mess. One of my decoders puts them in the order it finds muxes while tuning, ignoring the LCN completely, destroying any supposed advantage those magic 1-5 slots might have!

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Re: no-one uses the LCN anyway

One of my decoders puts them in the order it finds muxes while tuning, ignoring the LCN completely

Presumably that doesn't have a Freeview sticker on it then.

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We on this site...

...tend to be informed and technoliterate.

Older members of my extended family still watch mostly the first 5 channels of Freeview, because that is what they know, and they know where they are with "1", "2", "3", "4", and "5" on the remote. Channels under 10 do have a real premium when it comes to people who are used to press just one button per channel.

I've tried and tried to make them more aware of the +1 variants of ITV and Channel 5, to no avail. I just have to assume that they are too set in their ways to change, or maybe that they cannot read the programme guide on the screen!

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bed

I use the radio times web site to see if there will be anything worthwhile watching (usually not) or listening to then either record it to fast forward through the adverts of iplay it. Most of the time when we listen, we listen to streaming audio. The concept of "broadcast" is looking increasingly antediluvian. The government/ofcom could more usefully spend time considering how, in the event of an emergency, it is going to get the message out to the public who, it may be surprised to find, no longer spend their time with an ear or eyeball glued in real time to a public service broadcast service.

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Is it me?

or does the BBC actually want to f**k up the EPG system for some reason? (i.e. they generally have an 'unknown time/program listed for way longer than the other channels when you turn on the box(*), and generally they don't actually start the programme at the stated time, so for PVR use you generally have to manually put in a buffer).

(*) This seems to be on all the random pieces of kit I've had the misfortune to use. (I mean if channerl 5 and other dubious channels can get it right, why can't they?)

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Re: Is it me?

...generally they don't actually start the programme at the stated time, so for PVR use you generally have to manually put in a buffer

Doesn't your PVR user the programme start/stop signals generated by the broadcaster?

Yes, you are dependent on the broadcaster to do this correctly, but I can only think of once in the last few years where I missed part of a programme - a minute or two at the start.

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Unhappy

So the Google issue? If it's not on the 1st page it does not exist?

Yes subsetting your usual viewing stuff onto a favorites list works pretty well.

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Personally...

... I prefer to get the Radio Times every week, read through it and see what's each channel, then set the programmes up to record so I can watch them when it's convenient for me.

And, yes, I'm aware that the RT doesn't feature *all* the channels out there, but given that, when I've bothered to look at them, they're not showing anything worth watching...

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TWB

I've got a solution!

Go back to only a handful of good channels!

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Re: I've got a solution!

No need. There are already only a handful of good channels... and the others repeat so often you can check them infrequently without missing anything ;)

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Award to reward

> Other channels also commission UK-created content, but to a much lesser degree

So just award the primo slots to those broadcasters who screen the most hours of original drama, current affairs, sport, light ents and factual programming. If there really is a link between EPG pole position and audience figures, that would incentivise the content creators and reward them with larger audiences and therefore greater advertising revenue. Review every year.

Though I suspect that the "big 5" channels would stay in their current positions, more or less and everyone else would be right down at the bottom.

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EPG channel order is stupid and illogical

The way the channels are ordered in the EPG is stupid and illogical. Its totally disorganised.

I use a Nebula DigiTV card and I order the channels according to broadcaster and channel number so related channels are together:

BBC1, 2, 3, 4, BBC HD, Red Button, BBC News

ITV1, 2, 3, 4

C4, C4+1, E4, E4+1, More4, More4+1, Film4, Film4+1

5, 5 US, 5*

then I put the other commercial channels such as Dave, Quest, Yesterday, etc... at the end.

I remove the shopping channels.

That is the way it should've been done from the start. Having BBC3 as 7 for e.g. is ridiculous. It should be no. 3.

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How does the BBC loose money if not at top of EPG???

OK, what am I missing here??? How can the BBC, which get's no funding at all from advertising, loose money if not at the top of the EPG?

Even if not a single sole watched the BBC they would still get their funding from license fees.

I would think it would in fact be better if lesser known channels were on the first page.

Sounds like egos are the real issue here.

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Facepalm

This isn't news

ITV a bastion of UK content? ITV hasn't done anything good since around 1995 and went into crap overdrive around 2007 when they axed CITV and replaced it with, can you guess? daytime repeats and general lowest common denominator rubbish.

BBC hasn't fared much better after ditching their CBBC either. Can't we please put something original on rather than repeats of cash in the attic? or bargain hunt?

BBC and ITV Daytime now consist of geriatric programming rather than family programming, and they wonder why they don't get ratings. Meh.

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Re: CBBC (CITV?)

There's a CITV Freeview channel (but God knows what's on it) and a CBBC channel (lots of repeats, such as The Sarah Jane Adventures, she died in 2011, but news as well).

Now that terrestrial TV is all digital, there's no need to put programmes for a limited audience on the flagship single-digit channels any more - which is what was cancelled - except that the youngest viewers may have trouble finding their channel number.

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Anonymous Coward

Abandon channel numbers for the ancient relic they are

Channel numbers are as archaic as using drive letters in a file system. C'mon broadcasters and EPG makers, try thinking outside the box a little. How about a hierarchical navigation system, where you'd pick something like BBC / BBC 1. And for fucks sake, automate the selection of HD if you have HD TV. Why on earth show different channels for the SD and HD version of it? Pick the HD by default, and if for some insane reason you want to view the SD version, make that a context menu option or whatever.

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I still don't understand your EPG system

In the rest of the world, the channels simply use standard DVB EPG. You can sort the channels any way you want and your receiver will store any EPG-Data it'll fit into it's memory. Stations typically broadcast the following 4 weeks of schedule, some more some less. There's no intermediate you need to run an EPG system, it just works. And if you are a new station, you just start to air, and everybody who can get your channel will get your EPG.

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forget the EPG

would much prefer they told them to stop offsetting programs by 15 minutes so I either miss 15 minutes because I'm watching the similar interest style program on BBC, or I record it and fast forward through the adverts instead of supporting their funding methods. Advertisers please note if its on at a stupid time I dodge the commercials!

They seriously need to change the EPG to correctly classify the shopping and pay channels on freeview. If I want to buy this hours special I will go to the channel.

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Why can't I alter the lineup of channels myself?

That way I can have all my channels in the order that I want them in, and not dictated to me by the provider.

HD Stuff first, Sport next, Porn after. Done. Shopping and foreign shit can stay up the arse end of the guide where I will never visit.

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Go

Ditto!

Apart from I have no HD content or porn.

It would be nice to shove sport to the far end of the guide with the shopping rubbish, even better if the broadcasters would put ALL sports broadcasts and ALL sports related crud on the sports channel.

I hate it when I 'tune in' for the news and get 'Footballer in court for some reason', 'Footballer to change jobs', 'Football manager sacked', 'Rich person buys/sells football club, then the announcer has the audacity to say 'And now, sports news'.

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