Commercial TV stations announce free EPG

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Ty is a journalist with 15 years experience in writing for IT and entertainment publications. He is in charge of the home theatre category for CNET Australia and is also a PC enthusiast. He likes indie music and plays several instruments. Twitter: @tpendlebury


In an industry first, all of the commercial TV broadcasters have announced today they will provide an electronic program guide to all manufacturers of free-to-air personal video recorders and similar services..

Julie Flynn, chief executive officer of industry body Free TV said the announcement was a "critical plank" in the transition to digital adoption.

"Free-to-view digital television is an open platform -- available to every household in Australia. In the same spirit, we believe all consumers should be able to access our electronic program information", Flynn said.

The announcement comes after Harold Mitchell, chairman and CEO of Mitchell and Partners, told last month that an agreement between the networks had been struck.

The new agreement will mean that services such as IceTV and the forthcoming TiVo will be able to use the TV program data provided they meet the terms set down by the stations and Free TV.

A spokesperson for Channel Ten said the Free TV "principles" included encrypting the data to protect the guide information involved.

"If a service provider agrees to the principles they can get our data", she said.

At present, the EPG will only be available to free-to-air services, and will not affect the ongoing dispute between Foxtel, Seven and Ten or be available to the upcoming Channels A and B.

General Manager of IceTV Matt Kossatz said today's announcement should "shed some light" on the court precedings between Channel Nine and IceTV. Channel Nine claims that the IceTV guide is a breach of the station's copyright.

"We strongly believe we're not using copyrighted material from Channel Nine or any other network and we go to extreme lengths to prevent that," Kossatz said.

Kossatz said that the agreement is "something that we've wanted for a long time" and added that it wouldn't affect his business because IceTV "isn't just an EPG" but a service that included remote recording via the Internet and other exclusive features.

The EPG could be available in as little as three months, but the way the data will be delivered is still being worked out -- it could take form of a signal broadcast alongside the digital transmission.

Kossatz said he hopes IceTV will be involved in determining the best method: "We've been doing this for several years now. If anyone's an expert on distribution of guide information to digital recorders -- we're the people".

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geriatrixcomputerix posted a comment   

Imagine going to a cinema to watch "Love Story", but because the operator can't manage time you have to sit through 15 minutes of "Godzilla" first.

But wait,
you could wait in the lobby and have a chat with somebody, and the staff could tell you when the movie you came to see actually starts.
EPG cannot even tell you:
"Sorry we were late, the movie starts now."

Can it?


jackie posted a comment   

If they could only get it right!
channel 7 went this entire week with no guide? Why is that? Ch 9 have a an EPG that is constantly wrong or lags 45mins or more behind, making it pointless.
And these are the TV Pros? Pathetic.


MumboJumbo posted a comment   

Who cares about tv program guides. The sad execs at nine actually believe they have power over such an uncreative and boring guide. The sad truth is, they believe they are powerful. Wake up, p2p torrents and dvds are better than what you "schedule".

When are the govt. going to wake up and release more FTA licences. When you have all three fta's showing the same crap, somethings gotta give!


yabbal posted a comment   

Typical that they decide to implement their own system! The govt should force them to use the existing system in the current DVB-T specs - ABC does and it works well - importantly it works with existing hardware!


damianrx posted a comment   

I think you will find it is government legislation. Dream on that broadcasters can agree to share!!


Waycool01 posted a comment   

I've just paid for 12 months too with IceTV DOH! Typical AU, well behind the times.


chrismrulz posted a comment   

Hope this means vista media center will have australian EPG services.


twocrowsdown posted a comment   

About time!

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