London's High Court has rejected an appeal from shopping channel JML Direct over an electronic programming guide (EPG) listing dispute with Freesat.

Raised in October 2008, the legal case saw JML accuse Freesat of failing to stick within the EPG listings criteria laid out in Ofcom's policy guidelines.

All channels pay Freesat an annual fee of 30,000 for listing on the EPG, along with a 1,500 registration charge which provides the not-for-profit satellite platform with a revenue stream.

After JML applied for Freesat EPG listings in autumn 2007, it was subsequently allocated two channel holdings at 809 and 810 in April 2008. However, the firm objected to the positioning after realising that neither of its listings would appear on the first page of the shopping channels section.

JML then opted to bring a legal case against Freesat on grounds that its decision was based on irrational judgements and criteria not include in agreed listing policy. It also accused Freesat of failing to taking into account the date of EPG agreements as required by Ofcom.

The High Court rejected the case last year, indicating that Freesat was entitled to make its listing decision, and the Court of Appeal has now reinforced that decision.

In his ruling, Lord Justice Moore-Bick said: "In my view the first question for decision so far as the Code is concerned is whether a criterion framed in terms of 'viewer convenience and expectations' is expressed at too high a level of generality to satisfy its requirements.

"I do not think it is, because the whole tenor of the [Ofcom] Code is such as to indicate that broad criteria will suffice, provided they comply with the requirement for an objectively justifiable method of allocating listings."

Judge Moore-Bick said that Freesat's policy is compliant with Ofcom's code and combined together they represent a "rational and objective set of factors by reference to which allocations are to be made".




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