Personal Digital Recorders (PDRs) are becoming increasingly popular in German TV rooms. PDRs contain a large disk drive and/or a DVD drive capable of recording. The digital recording of television programmes is performed via an Electronic Service Guide (ESG) or an Electronic Programme Guide (EPG). These metadata are already being transmitted by various broadcasting methods, parallel to conventional TV broadcasts.
No uniform metadata format has emerged, however, which is used in all transmission channels. As a result, there are recurring problems with the recording of programmes. For this reason, some terminal-device manufacturers have begun televising their own programme guides via satellite to ensure that their recorders function properly. This constitutes a disastrous development. After all, different technologies for different devices make consumers feel uncertain. And there is the risk that a vertical market will emerge if a single provider’s system dominates the most important avenues of broadcasting.
TV Anytime and MHP
The TV-Anytime Forum was founded several years ago to avert this scenario. Forum members compiled and ultimately issued a standard which defines an extensive set of specifications regarding the storage of audiovisual content on mass-storage drives in consumer equipment. As a result, all market participants can make use of new and inexpensive storage media. Furthermore, service providers can create metadata just once, yet disseminate them in the same data format by different means. Ultimately, TV viewers will also benefit from standardisation, since the format is the same regardless of transmission path.
IRT has been addressing this matter since it emerged and made key contributions to the TV-Anytime standard. And the development of middleware for interactive broadcasting services has been one of our specialities for years. To link these developments to one another, a section on TV-Anytime and a section on personal video recorders have been incorporated into the MHP specification to include descriptions of recording functions and metadata representation.