The House of Lords is debating legislation that would protect the prominence of public service broadcasters over streaming rivals

Channel 4, ITV and Channel 5 are backing the BBC’s push for new laws guaranteeing their shows will get more prominent positions on streaming services than competitors such as Sky or Netflix.

The House of Lords will debate an amendment to the digital economy bill on Monday that would extend rules that give the UK’s public service broadcasters top billing on electronic programme guides.

As more viewers turn to streaming and on-demand services, the broadcasters are concerned their programmes may not be as easy to find and that commercial rivals such as Sky could prioritise their own shows instead.

Channel 4’s chief marketing and communications officer, Dan Brooke, said it was important that regulation kept pace with changing habits. “This proposed update is vital to ensure that audiences can continue to easily find the high-quality programmes that they love most from Channel 4 and the other public service broadcasters,” he said.

Though neither ITV nor Channel 5 has publicly backed the amendment, both support it.

An ITV source said the company wanted the prominence of PSB channels preserved in a changing environment, adding: “People are watching television differently and viewers need to be able to continue to easily find PSB channels.”

A Channel 5 source said the broadcaster broadly supports the principle of PSB prominence.

Though they are run commercially, Channel 4, ITV and Channel 5 are designated as public service broadcasters and operate on tighter licences than rivals overseen by regulator Ofcom.

The BBC has led the push for legislation to preserve their prominence online, with its head of strategy, James Purnell, writing in the Telegraph on Monday that public service broadcasters risked dropping out of view as viewers move online. “If we don’t update the rules, we’re at serious risk of losing something very special about our British culture,” he said.

The amendment, tabled by Labour peer Lord Wood, would be especially galling for Sky, which argues that its new personalised services, such as Sky Q, are simply giving consumers what they want.

The main page of Sky Q promotes “Top Picks” chosen by the broadcaster – the majority of which are Sky’s own programming – and personalised recommendations based on previous viewing.

In a statement, Sky called the BBC’s arguments “disingenuous” and bemoaned its refusal to allow Sky customers to see BBC shows individually within Sky’s on-demand platform rather than requiring viewers to use the iPlayer app. It went on: “The BBC needs to get with the times and allow consumers to view content they have already paid for alongside the content of other PSB’s and commercial broadcasters.”

If successful, the Lords amendment would have to be agreed by the House of Commons. However, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport is opposed to the legislation, saying it would be anti-competitive.

In a statement, a spokesman said: “With users increasingly able to personalise their own homepage for on-demand services, it would not be in their interests to legislate against this progress.”

The proposed amendment would also give children’s programming from PSBs greater prominence. Purnell has said that BBC channels such as CBBC and CBeebies, which account for the bulk of UK-made children’s shows, should be further up the programme guide than commercial channels aimed at children, most of which show US programming.