Australian TV Guide

A weak point of Australian free to air TV has been a near complete lack of Electronic Program Guides (EPG). Europe has these, accessible via Teletext, which makes setting up recordings on an appropriately equipped DVD recorder very simple, since you can select the program you want to record by name. Some even recognise coding embedded in the signal and adjust the recording for delayed starts and finishes.

But here, all we have is manual entry of recording times taken from a TV program (or the G-Code system which just reduces the number of keystrokes). Experienced TV recordists know that it’s wise to set the recording to start at least five minutes early, and finish 15 minutes after the scheduled end time, just to allow for problems with the broadcast.

Digital TV may offer better solutions in the future. Currently a trial is underway in Sydney of a datacasting service that includes all free-to-air stations’ programs. Maybe that can be leveraged one day into convenient recording services. For now, though, there’s no help on this front. Here in Canberra only two of the stations offer any programming information within their data streams, and these are only ‘now’ and ‘next’.

In the meantime, my brother has drawn my attention to a Web-based TV guide for Australian TV programming. No, it doesn’t offer any automation, but it still releases us from reliance on printed guides. And offers hope that maybe one day there will be some linkage for automated recording. As it stands, though, it is very useful with good information on the TV programs. It seems to cover everywhere in Australia, plus the various Pay TV channels. Check out the Australian TV Guide.

The company behind this is something called HWW Limited, which provides data syndication services. Amongst its offerings are ‘TV Metadata Services‘. It doesn’t say precisely what these are, but it smacks of such things as EPGs and program information. I shall be watching this with interest.

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