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.