The German media authorities want to prevent that the financially strongest broadcasters secure the top positions in the TV channel listings of TV sets and set-top-boxes while smaller and local players end up with less favourable slots.

The reason for the move: Only very few TV viewers make use of the possibility to change the channel listings, reflecting the strong influence of the default channel lineup compiled by the devices’ manufacturers.

Only one third of digital TV households actually use the electronic programme guide (EPG), according to media authority LFK. Viewers using the service, mainly do so to gain information about the currently running programmes. Only half of the few users realign the default channel listing with the help of the EPG.

“This means that the channels at front are automatically in the pole position. Channels in the rear parts of the listing have little chances to be found,” LFK president Thomas Langheinrich said in Stuttgart.

Langheinrich warns: “The manufacturers of TV sets in Germany can still decide about the channel allocation. The danger is high that channel slots are issued according to the chequebook. New channels or local information offerings are faced with the threat of going down in the digital nirvana.”

Langheinrich therefore calls for regulation to be extended to reception devices to establish equal access conditions for all channels.