The current EPG is a mess... would be nice if they could organise General Entertainment a bit better too though.
You'll need to retune your Freeview set-top boxes and TVs yet again this coming September. DMOL, the organistion that provides the Freeview EPG, is rejigging the terrestrial broadcasting servicer's channel listing. DMOL (DTT Multiplex Operators Ltd) said yesterday that the newly organised EPG will debut on 19 September. Kit …
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On Sony TVs you can reorder channels (or at least up to the 2011 products you could, not checked this year). You can also delete channels. It isn't the best UI but at least we didn't drop it entirely even though Freeview wanted us to. [We is not fanboist brand association as I was working at Sony TV Product Planning at the time and was actually involved the discussion].
Downsides are having to repeat the process after major retuning processes and that the numbers don't match those in the dead tree listings guides but for me it is still worth it to make some changes (swapping HD services into the low numbers, killing shopping channels, adult and pay services.
Yes, it does make you wonder why, in 2012, we're still having to memorise channel numbers which change every few months whereas we could just give the channels a NAME (a unique identifier and a "pretty name"), have no particular order (except maybe "time of creation", so BBC -> channel 4 stay roughly the same), and then let use use whatever short-code we need. If they want to change the channel name, we don't care - it will have an unchanging unique identifier that we NEVER need to see and our TV will still recognise it if it changes name, frequency and ordering and put it where WE want it to go (if anywhere!). No amount of jiggery pokery on the providers end will break people's scheduled recording or channel lists, and we can even use, say, a "Sky-compatible" number set if we so wish on our Virgin cable (so channels DON'T have to publish three different channel numbers, one for each TV service!).
It's like phone numbers. The categorisations are worthless about a month after they change them (because 07 is also used for things that aren't mobile phones, cost more, etc.) so why bother categorising the numbers except, maybe, by price - 0 so you're not dialling internationally, next digit determines price 0-9 meaning, say, free-phone up to 90p per min and then X amount of numbers depending on when the phone was activated (hell, personally, I'd make your last digit a "checksum" digit so the local exchange can TELL if you've phoned a valid number and/or correct single-digit mistakes automatically like ISBN barcodes can, so you get less wrong numbers and it "knows" if you've dialled a complete number yet or not).
And when they need to add new numbers, ADD A DAMN DIGIT TO THE END of the new numbers so NOBODY has to change numbers at all (or, better yet, charge providers to discourage new numbers being necessary). We have digital phone infrastructure now - use it!
The 7-digiters keep their numbers and the 8-digiters (which could be cleverly pre-planned before 7-digiters were issued so they can NEVER clash just by one mis-dialled number on the end) get new numbers - as many as currently exist until they exhaust all those and the 9-digiters get the same again. "Can't do it"? Strange, then, that emergency numbers and the operator are 3-digit numbers, most text lines are 5-digit short codes, childline is still 0800-1111 etc. etc. etc. so you're ALREADY doing it and the amazing digital telephony network just handles it just fine (and, let's be honest, soon most people won't be dialling a number directly ever).
It's 2012. I should not have to learn magic numbers that keep changing. Did your programming teachers teach you nothing?
LCN (Logical Channel Number) is pretty much unique to the UK; the international standards for DTV don't include it so it has to be carried as a 'user defined' field.
Getting rid of LCN would remove the politicking which channels undertake to get as high up the channel list as possible. Of course if the channels were ordered alphabetically then there would probably be lots of 'AAA1 TeleShopping' channels instead.
There are different similar but different schemes in other places with different rules. E.g. in the NorDig standards which are used in the Nordic region there is a separate number space for TV and Radio so there is a channel 1 radio and a channel 1 TV station.
There are quite a number of different schemes especially if you take into account cable and satellite services too.
Re Sony UI...
If you watch, say, channel 57, and then re-enter the guide, you start back at the beginning- BBC1, 2 etc. Grr. Curiously the EPG rarely gives 'what's on next' for BBC 1,2,3 and 4, but does for every other channel.
I'm generally unimpressed by TV UIs, and am not surprised that Steve Jobs thought there was room for improvement. Any one who makes TV UIs usable does deserve to gain financially. However, i hope they don't try and wrap their solution up in so many patents that all the other manufacturers can't take the hint and sort their UIs out too.
Which model? Doesn't sound like anything recent (unless they've done something really silly since I left. Guide normally opens up with current channel at the top (unless you are on the last page).
There are a couple of issues making TV UI's harder, one of them being patents which Rovi (formerly Gemstar) in particular owns tonnes of and tries to get manufacturers to adopt it's guide technology. Another is actually Freeview (DtG) whose requirements greatly limit freedom and place particular requirements on the remote control which are different to the particular requirements in other countries.
I think to do a really genuinely great TV UI it will be necessary to drop the TV functionality (or at least approvals). This might be where Apple can succeed that others wouldn't be able to get away with it.
The real hope I have is that someone will develop a TV with sufficent exposed API to make a really good phone/tablet application that IS the UI presenting content and channel listings rather than the buttons that appear on the traditional remote control.
Some people do just want volume up/down and channel up/down though!
Just allow people to put channels where they want, just like we used to in the past. My ageing boxes allow this but not new kit. I hate Freeview. Crappy low bandwidth, blocky pictures and now re-tunes every other month. Why not get people who can think father than 2 weeks into the future to organize this nonsense?
I can't see what other category shopping would fall under. And it is clear that the priority for them is greater than for children's or HD services. Its a good thing that my son doesn't watch live TV otherwise I would be cursing the increased difficulty of remembering and accurately hitting the 3 digit channel numbers rather than the 2 digit ones.
Another afternoon to be wasted reordering all the services and deleting the rubbish if they move about too much. [Time includes TV and recording devices at home and travel to and reordering/deleting at my father in-laws].
How often are you people re tuning your TV? I'd not touched mine since Christmas until last week when I re tuned it for the Olympic channels. I did have to do it 2 or 3 times in 2011 for the switch over I think, but apart from that the box has stayed the same. I do like the function on my Sony TV to delete the channels I dont want though, it kept the same numbers, but just got rid of everything else, made it possible for the EPG to fit onto 2 full screens, which was nice.
You switch over in 2011, here in the south east it was done around march to june, some areas like here in west kent had to do multiple retunes as the switchover was done over a few weeks.
We lost analoge BBC2 and Ch4 one week, with some digital chanels moved, then 2 weeks later the rest of the analoge went and another re-tune.
Then we had to do it again for the bloody lympics, and for all I know again afterwards and again in september.
Hopefully that will be the last time for a few years.....
I renumber the SD channels 1, 3 and 4 to 991, 993 and 994 and move BBC One HD, ITV 1 HD and Channel 4 HD to 1, 3 and 4 respectively. Also move BBC HD to 999 so it appears next to BBC One in the EPG.
I guess it wou;n't be possible in the current standards to have the HD channels automatically replace SD versions where both are available?
(This is a Toshiba Regza TV that supports renumbering).
There was a plan to support a mode of this but I'm not sure what happened to it. It is more complicated than you would expect.
It looks like it might be an optional feature:
The HD channels aren't exact replacements (at least BBC 1 HD doesn't have the regional opt-outs) so it needs to be dynamic at channel selection time (and programme change time). It also requires a multiplex jump so it needs a retune, lock and then to start filling the buffer until the next group of pictures starts, this takes a noticable time and could be really annoying if channel surfing. Then there are a set of issues if the HD signal is off-air or marginal signal strength.
I think these are the reasons that most devices don't support this feature.
Then there is the question of whether BBC 2 should jump to BBC HD if it showing the same content but actually you'll find that the two channels are not running to the same exact timing.
"I guess it wou;n't be possible in the current standards to have the HD channels automatically replace SD versions where both are available?"
It would be a good idea.
Ok, there is some regional variations on these channels, so why not get the system to dynamically swap between HD and SD when it cant show them?
Oh, and STV* people, if you are out there, how about getting STV HD and STV+1 sorted on Sky? Or at least lift the block and let us see the ITV versions without having to fiddle with the 'other channels' settings.
*For those down south, STV is what passes for an ITV region in Scotland. Badly limited service showing cheep alternatives to ITV shows to save their money (eg they show Underbelly (Australian cop show) instead of Scott & Bailey ) and claim its regional. Shame there isn't a renewal bid for ITV regions like the one of 1992.
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"DMOL said it will reserve certain channel numbers for new public service local TV channels. These will be carried at 8 (England and Northern Ireland) and 45 (Wales and Scotland)"
Why not make it the same UK wide? Otherwise it confuses anyone moving house across the border or travelling round in a camper van/caravan.
It would be sensible if the HD channels were listed near the SD channels they duplicate. I don't suppose many people watch HD just to see the definition - it's the programme they're after. Every time something that might be worth seeing in HD comes on, say, BBC2, I find I have to page furiously through the EPG to check the BBC HD channels that for some reason share a page with Gay Rabbit etc. The result is that I miss the first five minutes of most programmes.
And wouldn't it be nice if the EPG told us when something is a repeat, especially on BBC4, which seems to recycle content after about a fortnight?
I'd be happy if HD channels could replace the SD equivalents in the line-up by default. My folks have a nice TV (so do the in-laws) but getting them watch mainstream TV on HD is nigh on impossible; it's too difficult to remember the channel number, and for Sky at least (in-laws) the concept of pressing Guide ->> HD --> scroll down to BBC1 HD is just so far removed from normal behaviour (101, that'll do thanks) that HD is completely off their radar. It may was well not exist.
That must be a huge remote control. I mean channel numbers made sense when there were less than 30 channels since then you could have your 0-9 and your 1- and 2- buttons.
But for 3 digit numbers you'd need 29 buttons:
0 ... 9
1- ... 9-
1-- ... 9--
That's just utter madness, just get a list you can navigate. That only needs 4 keys. 2 for next/previous, and 2 to jump to the next or previous group marker.
As I am not entirely sure whether you are being facetious -
Modern equipment just monitors what numbers you have pressed and when you pause.
So 1 (pause) - will change to LCN1
1 2 (pause) - will change to LCN12
1 2 3 (no pause) will change to LCN123
Most equipment will allow you to press "select", "ok", "enter" or whatever button it uses as a form of acknowledgement - instead of pausing thus:
1 (enter) will change to LCN1
1 2 (enter) will change to LCN12
What's the point of having an EPG if it bears no relationship to the programmes being transmitted? I tried ten times over the weekend to watch or record Click! The EPG said it was on. The BBC web site schedule said it was on. The Click! pages on the BBC web side said it was on. The 'info' button said it was on. Was it hell? All I got was people gassing on about some sports thing that seems to be going on at the moment. Amd at 3.30 in the morning too!
Tonight exactly the same thing has happened on the World Service. With all this gee-whizz digital technology why is impossible for the UK's leading broadcaster to put out correct information?
I wish the Freeview equipment suppliers would come up with better ways of dealing with duplicate channels, which are increasingly common with the switchover and power boosts on the digital channels. You can end up with 2 or 3 copies of the same channel, with the duplicates shunted off down the end of the channel listings. It's often pot-luck which version of BBC1 etc. you get on the "prime" logical channel number for that station, and inevitably the one you do get has a marginal signal from some area whose local news has no interest at all to you whilst your one is off down the end of the channel list. I've yet to find a TV or set-top box that allows you to reassign the logical channel number to the version you do want. If the devices just placed the strongest signals for duplicates in the "prime" slot (as that's probably where you've pointed the aerial), it would help.
Of course you can do manual tuning. Just find the website to tell you which transmitter you want to use, what MUXes it's on. Then you have to clear out all the old channels as, the manual tuning for each mux won't clear out the unwanted channels, which normally means reverting to an auto-tune with the aerial unplugged before doing your manual tune on the chosen muxes.
Of course you have to do this differently on your collection of different TVs, set-top boxes etc. Then you have to try and talk your aged parents through the same process over the phone, when they can barely manage to perform any auto-tune, let alone a manual one and and grovelling under TV sets to making and remaking the aerial connection at the right point...