EPG updates on Freeview

Optimas Frag

Active Member
Now that I'm the proud owner of a Humax 9200t I just have a question about Freeview in general. I seem to remember reading somewhere that the EPG 7 day TV listings use either one of the multiplexs's or one specific channel to update the listings. Meaning that that the listings sent to your EPG are updated quicker if you leave it on one of the channels. I only ask because the listings for Five, BBC four, E4, More4 and a couple of others seem to not be updated until you actually switch to them. Any advice for this. Other than that the 9200 is doing exactly what it says on the tin with a better picture than the NTL cable I used to have in my room.


Well-known Member
I think that most of the PVR's and dvd recorders with freeview channels that get the 7 day epg from freeview behave in this way. It's handy, anyway, becauase this gives any last minute changes.

Freeview PVRs such as the Digifusions and Thomson get their 14 day epg from 4TV and this guide is kept in memory but it only updates once daily so it isn't up to date with any last minute changes.


Well-known Member
why epg not updated when programs run late.from digitalspy.co.uk thread at


I've recently complained to the BBC again about the EPGs not being kept accurate. This was when the Football on the Saturday before last caused eveything to run late, The SKY EPG wasn't altered and of course any recordings set were messed up!
However, the BBC has come back with the attached response which I think is pretty encouraging.
Lets hope that the FREEVIEW EPG will be sorted soon.

"There is an operational member of staff who sits in the programme playout
suite, from 6.30am to midnight, seven days a week, next to the playout
editor. In the case of live events overrunning, as soon as it is decided
how the schedule will be affected, we make the change - literally within

Having made the change to our schedules, however, we are totally at the
mercy of the technological chain that leads to the viewers' boxes.

The schedule revisions are sent to the Sky platform, Freeview and the
listings pages of bbc.co.uk. The time it takes for a change to reach each
destination varies considerably and is dependant on many factors outside
our control.

As a general rule we would expect changes to get through to Freeview within
a few minutes. Sky takes slightly longer - up to around 15 minutes. The BBC
web pages are unfortunately the slowest to update, usually taking a couple
of hours.

For an update that we make to reach the viewer's box, whatever the
platform, several different computer systems must talk to each other, and
it is here regrettably that most problems occur.

I arranged to have the EPG unit's operational handover for Saturday 24th
June examined and it seems that they were experiencing slower than usual
updates to the Sky and Freeview platforms that night, which was reported to
the technical support provider.

The issue of recordings being affected is further complicated by the fact
that each platform uses the information that we send differently, even once
they have received it.

Sky boxes do use programme 'triggers' to start and stop recordings that
have been set in advance. With Freeview, however, only the BBC channels
currently support these triggers and so the vast majority of box
manufacturers have not implemented the triggering functionality. This means
that for Freeview viewers, even if they receive our schedule updates, the
recording start/stop time will not be changed.

The Freeview technology is in the process of being updated to support
programme triggers across all channels and the hope is that, by this
Christmas, new Freeview boxes will appear that use the trigger feed the BBC


Well-known Member
'Triggers?' Sounds like the PDC code sent on analogue so that Videoplus VHS timers would take care of changed programme times.

Why wasn't that kind of thing in the FreeView spec. from the start? I mean, they already had it!


Well-known Member
The EPG on Freeview is carried on all mutiplexes; so if you're tuned to BBC1, the data that's picked up by your box will contain information for all the other channels.

However, some boxes - possibly as a result of being designed for other countries where the EPG works slightly differently - only pick up data for the channel to which you're tuned, or for those on the same mux. I think the Humax 9200 may fall into the latter category, as does the Topfield 5800, until next week's firmware update, where it will pick up all the info, regardless of what channel you're tuned to.

That's the theory; things are slightly complicated by the fact that some multiplexes, such as the one carrying ITV and C4, often have failures of their EPG data, so even with a good box, if you mostly watch those channels, sometimes you may see problems.

There is another class of box, including some PVRs, which uses a proprietary EPG system called 4TV; this is entirely separate from Freeview's guide, contains 14 days of data, and is only broadcast once a day, in the middle of the night, when the boxes fetch it, so it won't cope with late changes.

As for the 'triggers', this is actually the Running Status, which is a part of the specs for digital TV, and has been there from the start. But the commercial channels probably don't see any great benefit in keeping that information up to date, when they often can't even get the EPG to function properly; the only EPG data that broadcasters are obliged to provide on Freeview is the Now/Next info.

Keeping the running status properly updated is something that's going to be attempted in tandem with the provision of extra meta-data, such as series link info, which will provide better support on Freeview for PVRs, as part of the roll-out later this year of the Freeview Playback branding.

I theory, it will make it all work terribly well. In practise, the penny pinching accountant scum who run the likes of ITV will still understaff their engineering teams, unless they perceive that there's any shareholder value in actually getting it right.



Well-known Member
until next week's firmware update
Is that the Humax or Topfield or both please?


Active Member
Bat-man said:
Is that the Humax or Topfield or both please?

He means the Topfield which is getting a new firmware release on the 14th July. At the moment the standard Topfield EPG only populates for the channel you are watching. The next release will populate all other channels at the same time so that we don't have to run TAPs overnight to get the box to scan all channels to populate the EPG.

The Humax 9200T already populates the EPG for all channels using just the stream you are watching, albeit slowly.


Well-known Member
The next release will populate all other channels at the same time so that we don't have to run TAPs overnight to get the box to scan all channels to populate the EPG.

Any idea of when this Topfield update may be please?


Active Member
Nigel, when you first switch on the Humax PVR-9200t it gathers the EPG data for all channels and fills up the 7 day guide. But it can do this rather slowly - and I have found this seems to be dependant on which channel you are on. This must mean that different channels transmit the EPG differently. For example some channels provide the EPG data quite quickly and for all channels, whereas if you have your machine on certain other channels it can take along time to receive the EPG, or that they are only providing EPG data for their own channel or channels in its own MUX, or not at all. You would have thought that they would all just do things in the same way but I think that what you said about channels only being obliged to provide 'Now and Next' data kind of explains the differences. How freeview/DTG are going to make all the broadcasters work the EPG properly I do not know. Humax are implementing the series link and PDC this summer but its going to be a little bit pointless if only BBC prepare and manage the EPG properly - surely the DTG/Freeview have to be able to make the broadcasters adhere otherwise we might as well go back to using autopadding.

Quick tip for anyone with a new Humax PVR for faster EPG: I find that being on BBC1 fills up the next few days of EPG data for all channels within 2 or 3 minutes and then a bit longer for the rest of the week, compared to being on FIVE or TMF etc. You can increase the speed of filling up the guide however by using picture in picture - the machine seems to use both tuners to fill out the guide and it reduces the time it takes by 50% if your other channel is on say ITV. The other tip is to use the auto switch off or switch on time feature - set your machine to automatically switch itself on at the time 5 minutes before you are due to arrive home from work or before you wake up in the morning so that it gathers the EPG on its own before you go to use it.


Active Member

Paul Shirley

Active Member
I'd be ecstatic if my 9200 filled even one mux worth of EPG in 3 minutes instead of the 10 or so it usually takes. It looks like another 9200 bug, taking several cycles through the carousel to catch everything. It doesn't even pick up Now&Next for all channels quickly - a couple of minutes on a bad day.

While lots of people report success with the 2 tuner trick I've never seen any improvement trying it.

My VP3020 DvB card has to cycle through each channel (not mux) for its EPG - and finishes faster than the 9200! I think my Dec2000T manages to beat it as well. My ancient iPlayer used to take as long as the 9200, maybe the CPU's just aren't powerful enough to keep up? The 9200 is a sluggish beast at the best of times and still buggy, they omitted mentioning a lot of fixes from the last changelog - would have frightened people seeing the real length of that list ;)


Active Member
Its all very well us complaining about the speed differences and the differences between channels in performance as well but in fairness there is a couple of workarounds people use until the save EPG to disk is redy for a release. My qustion is still though - how are the DTG or Freeview going to make all broadcasters ahere to maintaining the EPG properly in light of these changes expected in the Freeview EPG? Do they have any power to be able to make them do it right. Freeview Playback will be a bit of a failure if it cant surely?

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