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Digital Economy Bill - Committee (4th Day)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 7:00 pm on 8th February 2017.

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Photo of Lord Foster of Bath Lord Foster of Bath Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) 7:00 pm, 8th February 2017

My Lords, clearly there is a lot of agreement about your Lordships’ Communications Committee’s recommendation that we have a new, up-to-date, fit-for-purpose EPG regime, which may also take on board the suggestions of the noble Lord, Lord Puttnam. We desperately need it.

Many examples have already been given: the difficulty of finding CBeebies and CBBC under a large number of cartoons; the difficulty of finding the iPlayer or the ITV Player on the first page of an on-demand screen on a smart TV; the difficulty of finding indigenous language channels such as S4C or BBC Alba; and even not being able to find the EPG itself on a smart TV.

There is very clear evidence that EPG positioning really matters. I will give just one example to illustrate it. If you look at the percentage of viewership of CBeebies on Virgin, where it is high up on the EPG, the share is much higher than the viewership of exactly the same programmes on Sky, where it is much lower on the EPG.

However, the real reason for my intervention is simply, as the Minister is about to respond to the debate, to draw his attention to what one of his right honourable friends—the former Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport—said just in 2011:

“Position on the EPG will probably be the Government’s single most important lever in protecting our tradition of public service broadcasting”.—[Official Report, Commons, 8/9/11; col. 543.]

When the Minister responds, I hope he will bear in mind what his right honourable friend said.