Freeview EPG delayed until 2004



UK's free to air DTT Freeview is to delay the launch of its EPG until early 2004. The BBC, Crown Castle and BSkyB promised it as part of their original application for the licence to run the service. Shops selling the digital box are not happy with the delay.

Until the EPG is set up, viewers must use the "now and next" on-screen listing that only lets them know what programme will run immediately after the show they are watching and in any event has been unreliable.

Without an EPG viewers are less likely to change up and down manually between the 30 channels available, say dealers. Over the week up to Easter, though the audience for multichannel TV outweighed viewing figures for BBC1 and ITV for the first time, Freeview viewers were significantly less likely to view non-terrestrial channels than their cable TV and Sky Digital counterparts, according to Barb.

Dealers say the lack of a seven-day EPG also makes the new range of digital TV recorders much harder to use. But Matt Seaman, Freeview's general manager, told the Guardian that the Freeview deal was good enough that he did not expect sales to be held back by the lack of an EPG.