Freeview EPGs – A brief history

July 8th, 2010 by Alistair MacDonald Leave a reply »

With the recent switching off the the Multiguide / 4TV service there has been some confusion on several forums and Twitter about what EPG services there are and have been. This does not surprise me. In the past created the link between Unique Interactive’s EPG solutions the the BBC systems for feeding the EPGs, and I still get confused. In total we have had about 5 EPG services and today, after the loss of the Multiguide service, we still have three. This is my attempt to summarise what has happened from memory. If there is anything you would like to add or if I have recalled wrongly then please comment on the post.

Now and Next

The original EPG was and still is a now and next service that is still transmitted today. It does exactly what it says by saying what is on now and what is coming up next. This information is transmitted on every multiplex. Originally the information sent appeared to differ on the different multiplexes but today the information seems to be the same.

NTL Interactive

The name implied to me that this was supposed to be part of NTL’s push in to the interactive TV market, but I remember it solely as a 1/2 day TV guide on On Digital. This was available on all boxes that supported MHEG, that was most at the time.

I vaguely remember this service being overtaken by a Teletext EPG (TV Navigator) with comparable functionality, and then this was upgraded so it did not function with my box. For the sake of this blog I am regarding all these as one EPG, although I fully acknowledge they were two completely different EPGs utilising the same technology in the same way.

Multiguide (4TV Interactive)

Originally introduced by 4TV and later maintained by InVision. Originally a 7 day service it was expanded to 14 days around the same time the Freeview 7/8 day guide (below) was launched. As a result many devices that are labelled as supporting 7 days that would actually support 14 days worth of listings. The service was funded by receiver manufacturers.

Sadly for those of us who used it the service stopped in June 2010. As soon as a free and open Freeview EPG service was launched the Multiguide days were numbered and the last box was allegedly manufactured in 2006.

Freeview 7/8 day

When ITV Digital (formally OnDigital) failed in 2002 there were several groups that offered proposals. The winning group were the people behind Freeview (including BBC, BSkyB, and Crown Castle). As part of this plan a native Freeview EPG service was created and is used by most devices today.

Teletext Extra

This is a 14 day service launched in April 2007. The service funded by adverts that are shown on the listing page and is generally accessed by the guide button on a comparable device’s remote control.

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1 comment

  1. Andy says:

    The fact that an EPG can just be switched off seems very unfair to me. As a consumer I would consider the EPG an integral part of the box and therefore something that I have paid for when I bought the box after deciding not to buy the cheaper one without the EPG.

    Surely a contract that covers a major bit of functionality like this should not be allowed to just run out!

    Got very cross about this, made phone calls, sent emails, signed the petition and then spoke to Consumer Direct who told me to speak to my retailer who (brilliantly) have given me refund (after nearly 5 years!). Don’t know if the agent just liked the sound of my voice or if there is a recognised cock-up here which they can sort out with Inverto/Inview.

    Anyway, now looking for an alternative. Will probably add £100 to my refund and get something like the Humax HDR or the 3view box. Something with a Freeview stamp on the front aught to help avoid this sort of problem in the future.

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