Freeview Broadcast EPG (UK)

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Freeview Broadcast EPG (UK)

Post#1 » Sun Aug 12, 2012 9:15 am

As regular readers will know, I have been migrating from Vista to Windows 7 recently. The trouble is that I keep finding things that I do not like about Windows 7 Media Center. Recently I noticed that series recording is different.

On Vista, series recording is based solely on the programme title. As a result, the "Record Series" option is suppressed only for movies (where there is a metadata flag in the downloaded EPG). But Windows 7 evidently has a series flag in the downloaded metadata, and if that flag is set wrongly, 7MC does not offer you the "Record Series" option. I experienced this with the "Tour de France Highlights" on ITV4, and after that with "The Cycle Show" (also on ITV4; note: this is a cheaply-made, low-content show, and is barely worth watching). Anyway...

My test Windows 7 system had run out of downloaded EPG (not updated for 2 weeks), so yesterday I decided to see what 7MC would do for series recording with the Freeview broadcast EPG. I tuned to BBC1 and watched that for 15 minutes. When I looked at the EPG, I was surprised to find that all of the BBC channels were fully populated, but none of the other channels were. I then tuned to ITV1 and watched that. After a further 15 minutes, a second group of channels were now populated, but others were not. Watching in turn several more of the unpopulated channels, the entire EPG for the standard-definition channels was eventually populated.

I did not take notes, but it looks as though each MUX broadcasts only the EPG for the channels in that MUX. This is contrary to the way that I thought that the Freeview EPG worked -- I was under the impression that each MUX broadcasts the EPG for all MUXes, but with a bias towards the channels in its own MUX. Some possibilities:

(1) It has always been this way, and I was under the wrong impression.

(2) It changed with digital switch over.

(3) It is a temporary change for the period of the Olympics, and will revert when the Olympics end.

One consequence of the current arrangement is that the EPG for the high definition channels is never ever populated, as the high-def MUX broadcasts the EPG in an encoded form which 7MC is unable to decode. Where the high-def channel duplicates a standard-def channel (likely to be the case for many years in the UK), one can of course use the EPG for the standard-def channel (the current high-def-only "BBC HD" is planned to become BBC2 in due course, I believe).

Finally, what about series recording using the broadcast EPG? My Humax PVR does series recording using the broadcast EPG, and that works OK, so the broadcast EPG certainly contains enough information for series recording to work correctly. The problem is that 7MC does not use this information, and 7MC reverts to the Vista style of simply using the programme title. Unfortunately, it seems to be worse than Vista. The downloaded EPG that Vista uses contains a unique programme-id for each programme, and in this way Vista can avoid recording duplicates (which have identical programme-ids). 7MC does not understand the programme-ids in the broadcast EPG, and so it does record duplicates.

-- from CyberSimian in the UK
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Post#2 » Sun Aug 12, 2012 10:52 am

In regards to the in-band guide data:

I'm not sure how the in-band epg is loaded outside of an automatic update window so I can't say much there, I'd assume that as you say, guide data is transmitted on a Mux by Mux basis.

If you run the automatic update scheduled task (I don't think that the manual update will do this) then the mcglidhost task will scan for in-band data as part of the update process and then populate all channels with in-band data (if that's what the channels are set to use in the edit channels menu).

You can add the -pscn0 switch to a manual mcupdate command (the 0 can be any number in minutes, if that time has elapsed since the last in-band scan then mcglidhost will update the data, 0 means that it will scan even if it did so recently).

ie C:\Windows\ehome\mcupdate.exe -pscn0
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Post#3 » Mon Aug 13, 2012 8:34 am

CyberSimian wrote:On Vista, series recording is based solely on the programme title. As a result, the "Record Series" option is suppressed only for movies (where there is a metadata flag in the downloaded EPG). But Windows 7 evidently has a series flag in the downloaded metadata, and if that flag is set wrongly, 7MC does not offer you the "Record Series" option. I experienced this with the "Tour de France Highlights" on ITV4, and after that with "The Cycle Show"


The old XP/Vista series identification technique, which worked 100%, was replaced with the new EPG based method in Vista TV Pack. It isn't as bad as it once was, but is nowhere near as good as the old way. It was so bad originally, it is the sole reason why I skipped TV Pack, and VMC totally.

There is a category on the EPG page on MS Connect to report series' not being identified correctly, but the chances of having it fixed before the series finishes...? Minimal at best in my experience.

Don't forget you can use keyword recordings as an alternative.
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Post#4 » Mon Aug 13, 2012 10:20 am

holidayboy wrote:I'm not sure how the in-band epg is loaded outside of an automatic update window so I can't say much there, I'd assume that as you say, guide data is transmitted on a Mux by Mux basis.

Watching live TV certainly updates the EPG from the broadcast datastream, since this was all that I did to get all of the standard-definition channels populated. However, this takes time! In the Humax forum on DigitalSpy, the generally accepted view was that it took 8 minutes for the entire 7-day EPG to be broadcast once. Then someone came along and said that it was in fact only 4 minutes, and that the Humax processor was too slow to process it all in one go, and so needed two complete cycles to get a complete EPG. So it would take at least 4 minutes for MC to get a complete EPG (and maybe 8 minutes).

holidayboy wrote:If you run the automatic update scheduled task (I don't think that the manual update will do this) then the mcglidhost task will scan for in-band data as part of the update process and then populate all channels with in-band data (if that's what the channels are set to use in the edit channels menu).

I tried this. First I tried "mcupdate /?", but it did not display any information about how to use the command (is it documented anywhere?). Then I tried your command example, but it finished suspiciously quickly, i.e. it did not take 4 minutes. Possibly the process runs asynchronously, and mcupdate returns control to the command line after starting the asynchronous process. Or it may be that the EPG was mostly up to date anyway (only one day unpopulated), so it did not need to do much. Either way, the high-definition channels were unpopulated before trying this command, and remained unpopulated afterwards.

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Post#5 » Mon Aug 13, 2012 10:30 am

mark1234 wrote:Don't forget you can use keyword recordings as an alternative.

Yes indeed, although it means getting the keyboard out.

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Post#6 » Mon Aug 13, 2012 12:06 pm

Cybersimian wrote:
holidayboy wrote:If you run the automatic update scheduled task (I don't think that the manual update will do this) then the mcglidhost task will scan for in-band data as part of the update process and then populate all channels with in-band data (if that's what the channels are set to use in the edit channels menu).

I tried this. First I tried "mcupdate /?", but it did not display any information about how to use the command (is it documented anywhere?). Then I tried your command example, but it finished suspiciously quickly, i.e. it did not take 4 minutes. Possibly the process runs asynchronously, and mcupdate returns control to the command line after starting the asynchronous process. Or it may be that the EPG was mostly up to date anyway (only one day unpopulated), so it did not need to do much. .

-- from CyberSimian in the UK



You should see the mcglidhost process in the task manager eating cycles for a few minutes - running mcupdate without the -uf switch will only download a package from the internet if it's been a certain length of time, mcupdate will then finish.

I'll try and find the list of switches for mcupdate that Mike and Pete at the old TGB posted for me, they're around here somewhere.

The mcglidhost process should continue to run for a while after mcupdate is done, mcupdate may well kick in again once mcglidhost has done it's thing in order to update the .db (I've never watched it long enough to be sure though).

Cybersimian wrote:Either way, the high-definition channels were unpopulated before trying this command, and remained unpopulated afterwards


I don't think that 7MC can read the in-band data for the Freeview HD channels due to the DRM / encryption that the Freeview HD EPG uses, Media Center relies on downloaded data for the HD channels as far as I know.
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Post#7 » Mon Aug 13, 2012 12:08 pm

CyberSimian wrote:
mark1234 wrote:Don't forget you can use keyword recordings as an alternative.

Yes indeed, although it means getting the keyboard out.


Or remote desktop.
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