Thursday, July 28

Brute force solution to lack of a good EPG

I've bemoaned the lack of a good extensive Electronic Program Guide (EPG) in Australia and the politics behind it in previous posts. Now a UK company, Promise TV have demonstrated a prototype solution to the problem which, while obvious, is still remarkable - just bung together sufficient tuner cards and hard disk space in one device to record everything being transmitted on all channels, for the whole week!

That solves the problem of programming your device to record particular shows. You don't need an EPG so much if you know that it's all recorded there somewhere on your disk. It remains to be explained exactly how the Promise box helps you navigate through all that content, but Cory Doctorow's story mentions that all the content is indexed as its recorded.

Obviously a Promise TV box isn't going to scale economically to a 500 channel market, but in the UK, or here in Australia, where you can count all the free-to-air stations on one hand, and all the worthwhile pay TV stations on the other, this product may prove very popular. No info on pricing but UK press launch planned for August.

Having all the content stored locally raises another interesting possibility: you can't publish an extensive EPG in Australia because the networks who own the copyright won't allow it. However, if I was publishing an EPG covering the week's content stored on my Promise TV box, perhaps I own the copyright to that? And if I was to sell/share that EPG with other owners of the Promise TV box in Australia, well, maybe it's defensible? Even profitable?

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