EPG News

Ofcom has told the BSkyB and other electronic programme guide publishers that they must publish the criteria used to place channels on their guides.

EPGs are proprietary and closed systems, and this move from Ofcom means that public service channels such as the BBC must receive appropriate prominence on the guide, and not be buried at the bottom of listings.

Ofcom does not specify how EPG publishers must do this, but has suggested alphabetical or audience share as appropriate methods.

In other EPG news, an Australian inventor has unveiled ICE – the Intelligent Content Engine. The service is comprised of a number of useful features. Aside from a parental control system called Ice Nanny and an EPG, the service also includes a number of features designed to make advertising less obtrusive.

First up is Ice Skip, which simply allows PVRs to skip past adverts when playing back a recorded programme. Watch TV programmes by recording them on your PVR and starting playback ten minutes later and you need never see an advert again.

Secondly, Ice Hush controls the volume level of adverts when they come one – we’ve all been blasted into our seats by the sudden increase in volume because advertisers feel they need to shout for us to want to buy their washing powder.

The third line of defence is Ice Surf will change to another channel or radio broadcast when an advert is detected.

The inventor of this suite of tools is Peter Vogel – he wouldn’t give details away on how they actually work, but given that he is the inventor of the Fairlight Synthesiser, he probably knows what he’s doing.

The technology will be subscription-based and will cost about AUS$2 – AUS$3 (€1.15 to €1.74) per service required.


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Fraser Lovatt

Fraser Lovatt has spent the last fifteen years working in publishing, TV and the Internet in various capacities, and believes that they will be seperate platforms for at least a while yet. His main interests at the moment are exploring where Linux is taking home entertainment and how technology is conferring technical skills on more and more people. Fraser Lovatt was born in the same year that 2001: A Space Odyssey was delighting and confusing people in the cinemas, and developed a lifelong love of technology as soon as he realised that things could be taken apart, sometimes put back together again, but mostly left in bits or made into something the original designer hadn't quite planned upon. At school he was definitely in the ZX Spectrum/Magpie/BMX camp, rather than the BBC Micro/Blue Peter/well-behaved group. This is all deeply ironic as he later went on to spend nine years working at the BBC. After a few years of working as a bookseller in Scotland, ("Back when it was actually a skilled profession" he'll tell anyone still listening), he moved to England for reasons he can't quite explain adequately to himself. After a couple of publishing jobs punctuated by sporadic bursts of travelling and photography came the aforementioned nine years at the BBC where he specialised in internet technologies and video. These days his primary interests are Java, Linux, videogames and pies - and if they're not candidates for convergence, then what is?