17 May 2005

TDN LCN Policy

The following document sets out the official guidelines for the allocation of channel numbers and genres on DTT, as set by TDN:

TDN LCN Policy
17th May 2005


This document states The Digital Network’s (TDN) current policy (the “Policy”) for allocating Logical Channel Numbers (LCNs) on the Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) platform. It replaces Version 1.0 of the TDN LCN Policy that was published in November 2004. TDN foresaw a review of the LCN policy within 6 months of the publication of Version 1.0. This Policy implements changes agreed during the review phase by the DTT multiplex operators: the BBC, Digital 3&4, Crown Castle UK, and SDN (“The TDN Member(s)” or the “multiplex operator(s)”). The review has also been informed by independent research into viewer attitudes and behaviour commissioned by TDN. Subsequent reviews will continue to be informed in this way.

The Policy conforms with the requirements of the Communications Act 2003 and Ofcom’s Code of Practice on Electronic Programme Guides published in July 2004 (the “Ofcom EPG Code”) refer Attachment 3. Within this regulatory framework, TDN’s objective is the management of the Policy, including genre creation and allocation of LCNs, which will have regard to the need to offer channel providers as much certainty and continuity as possible. However, TDN’s overarching objective will be to ensure that the policy is managed primarily for the long-term benefit of the DTT platform and in the interests of viewers. The Policy should be construed subject to this objective.

Services available on DTT
TDN allocates LCNs to a wide range of different services on the DTT platform, e.g. television, radio, and interactive. For the purposes of the Policy all services are referred to as ‘channels’ and those who provide them as ‘channel providers’.

Logical Channel Number (LCN) Requests and Genres
Any TDN Member which intends an additional channel to be launched on its DTT multiplex (whether or not it is the channel provider) should advise TDN as soon as possible, and in any case not later than six weeks before the intended launch of the channel of its request for a new LCN to be allocated. In order to be allocated an LCN, a channel provider must supply TDN (through its multiplex operator) with a copy of the broadcasting licence (or equivalent authorisation) permitting the broadcast of the channel on the DTT platform in the UK. Prior to that, any LCN allocation will be provisional.

The channel provider should state (through its multiplex operator) the preferred channel genre for the new channel (see section 5 below), and whether it considers that the channel qualifies as an ‘associated channel’ (see section 7 below). If TDN agrees that the channel is an associated channel, section 7 of the Policy will apply. If the channel is not an associated channel, TDN will allocate the next available number at the end of the appropriate genre. Where a genre becomes full, it may be necessary to create an overspill section for that genre elsewhere on the LCN map until TDN decides to review the Policy and the channel listings made in accordance with the Policy.

If TDN does not agree with the channel provider that the genre requested for the channel is appropriate, it will place the channel in a genre that it considers to be appropriate or, if necessary, create a new genre. Factors which TDN will take into account when deciding where to place a channel, or when creating a new genre, may include, but are not limited to: Scheduling, event and synopsis information; the specific nature of the channel, e.g. text and radio channels differ from full video and audio television channels and are likely to merit their own distinct genres rather than be listed according to the predominant genre of their content; any relevant public information and/or information that TDN may request or the channel provider may wish to provide.

Requests for an LCN made on a speculative basis (i.e channels without confirmed genre and target launch date) will not be considered, but TDN will have due regard to confidentiality requirements and will permit the use of ‘working channel names’. A request for an LCN must be approved by TDN prior to a multiplex operator submitting a Service Change Request (an “SCR”) to TDN.

In the ordering of channels, the following factors may be considered: genre, PSB status, associated channels, and any other factors. TDN will identify pay and subscription channels from free-to-air channels by a symbol appearing against the pay channel’s name.

Vacated LCN(s)
Channel providers may change the type of content of a channel or the channel’s name and retain their existing LCN. However, if a channel provider changes the type of content of a channel at any time after the launch of a channel, TDN may, after consulting with the channel provider, move the channel to a more appropriate genre. If a channel provider or multiplex operator withdraws a channel from the platform, the same LCN will not become available to that channel operator to launch a new or different channel. However, TDN will consider reasonable representations from the multiplex operator if it wishes to reserve the LCN for up to 6 months, provided it does not compromise TDN policy and objectives. In the event of such a request being put to a TDN vote, the multiplex operator making the representations will abstain from the vote on that issue. For the avoidance of doubt, this paragraph will not apply to the scenario outlined in paragraph 4.1 above.

Vacated LCNs will normally remain empty and channel providers will not be able to request them (except for the purposes of public service and associated channels). Where there are vacated LCNs in a genre, following a review of the Policy, channel providers (via their multiplex operator) may be offered an option to move a channel to a new LCN suggested by TDN in accordance with the new Policy, or unless TDN in accordance with its new Policy requires the channel to move LCN, to leave it at its current LCN.

LCNs are allocated into the following genres:
► General entertainment (TV)
► Children (TV)
► News (TV)
► Text and MHEG services
► Adult (TV)
► Radio

TDN will allocate ‘not for direct public access’ Interactive, Data, and Test services where appropriate. Note: In the next LCN policy review TDN is minded to introduce new genres and to move some channels to accommodate these.

Listing of Public Service Channels
‘Public service channels’ are those channels identified as such in accordance with Section 310 of the Communications Act 2003. When allocating LCNs to public service channels, TDN will seek to give ‘appropriate prominence’ to these channels in the appropriate genre in accordance with paragraphs 2-4 of the Ofcom EPG Code. Notably paragraph 3 clarifies that Ofcom: “does not propose to be prescriptive about what appropriate prominence means, as there are many possible ways in which EPGs could display information about programmes included in PSB services”.

Public service channels vary, e.g. in terms of launch date, content and target audience, and this may merit TDN taking different approaches to determining what constitutes “appropriate prominence” in some cases. TDN anticipates taking the following into account, inter alia, when allocating LCNs to public service channels:
► the nature and content of the channel;
► the launch date of the channel onto the DTT platform;
► the programme numbers that are vacant at the time;

TDN will ensure that its approach to affording appropriate prominence to public service channels is objectively justifiable and has regard to the interests of citizens and the expectations of consumers, in accordance with the provisions set down in the Ofcom EPG Code. TDN envisages that public service channels will be placed at, or near, the head of the relevant genres listed in Section 5 above, subject to the application of factors 6.2 i-iii above. This paragraph will only apply to vacant LCNs.

Associated Channels
If a channel qualifies as an ‘associated channel’ (see 7.2), TDN will seek, where possible, to allocate the new channel an LCN next to the existing channel or channels with which it is associated. In order to qualify as an ‘associated channel’, a channel must be manifestly linked to an existing channel on the DTT platform. The channel provider should inform the TDN Executive (through its multiplex operator) whether it wishes to be treated as an ‘associated channel’ at the time of making its LCN request in accordance with Section 3 of The Policy above. TDN anticipates taking the following non exhaustive list of criteria into account when deciding whether a channel is manifestly linked to an existing channel:
► the genre of both channels;
► the way in which the channels are branded;
► whether the channels are under common control;
► the degree of intended cross-promotion between the channels.

In some cases it may not be possible to place associated channels next to the channel or channels with which they are associated. If this situation arises; (i) TDN will endeavour to allocate LCNs so that associated channels are grouped as closely together as possible in the same genre; and (ii) TDN will seek to place associated channels next to the channel or channels with which they are associated following the next review of the Policy. This paragraph will only apply to vacant LCNs.

TDN will carry out periodic reviews of the Policy which are likely to be every two years, or earlier at the discretion of TDN. In particular, but without limiting its discretion, TDN may carry out a review if:
► A genre becomes full (i.e. genre numbering overflows into the next);
► There is a proliferation of new channels and/or services;
► An LCN becomes vacant.

Following a review of the Policy: new LCNs may be allocated to existing channels, and genres may be created or amended; and reasonable notice, not less than 3 months, will be given to channel providers who will be affected by any change.

TDN will take into account any relevant research.