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Electronic program guides

Viewers use electronic program guides for TV schedules and features such as parental lock. There are rules broadcasters should follow when showing these guides. 

The principles

The following electronic program guide (EPG) principles tell broadcasters what information they should give viewers about their programs.

1. Rules for free-to-air broadcasters

  • Each free-to-air broadcaster should give EPG data free to the public.
  • It should not be linked to a broadband subscription, the purchase of software or contract signing.  
  • Guide information should be easy to access through the viewer's Service Information data. 

2. Data that EPGs must give

FreeTV Australia has developed broadcaster guides (OP-44 and OP-58) about the critical information that EPGs must provide, including: 

  • accurate details about the present and following programs being aired
  • a minimum 7 days of schedule information
  • accurate and useful parental guidance rating information

EPG start time accuracy

Two sections of the EPG show program start times:

  • the ‘seven-day schedule’
  • the ‘present/following’ (or ‘now/next’) section  

These are usually found by pressing a button on your EPG remote control.

The EPG principles cover the accuracy of program start times in the present/following section only. They do not apply to the accuracy of program start times in the seven-day schedule.

Why accurate information is important

The ‘present/following’ (or ‘now/next’) section of the guide sent by broadcasters has details including the name, start time, classification and description of each show.

Some or all of this information may be shown, depending on your equipment.

Parental lock feature

The accuracy of present/following information is important for people using the digital parental lock feature.

Digital TV equipment uses details in the ‘present program’ field to check the classification of the program on air and if the program should be blocked.

For parental lock to work properly:

  • The 'present/following' section of the EPG must have accurate and useful parental guidance information.
  • The 'following program' field in the EPG must change straight away to the ‘present program’ when a new program comes on air.

If present/following changeovers do not match program times, program blocking may not work.

Find out more about parental lock standards.

Broadcasters and the EPG principles

There is no formal requirement for broadcasters to meet the EPG principles.

The principles give broadcasters the chance to comply with agreed standards without new regulations.

We will check a broadcaster's performance against the EPG principles when deciding whether to use our regulatory powers.

Contact us if you want more information or to tell us about EPG inaccuracies. 

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