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Freeview reaches out to EPG-less DVR owners

Relief for Digifusion users?

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Freeview has offered a ray of hope to the hundreds of Brits who own DVRs rendered effectively useless at recording future programmes because the company delivering the machines' Electronic Programme Guide (EPG) stopped doing so.

The issue affects owners of ten very early receivers and DVRs, including six models by Digifusion, a couple from Luxembourg-based Inverto and one each from the rather better known Thomson and Sony, though the Sony box was a rebranded Digifusion.

Back in the day, these machines contracted out their EPG to 4TV which would provide them with a proprietary seven-day EPG at a time when Freeview wasn't broadcasting such information at all. When Freeview subsequently began transmitting a free-to-air eight-day EPG, the 4TV offering was extended to 14 days.

The service was later taken over by InView, which separately provides EPG information for a number of other DVRs, including TopUp TV kit. The 4TV/InView EPG was transmitted at night for boxes to download. 4TV ultimately became part of Thomson, now going by the name Technicolor.

Last month, InView said it would cease transmission of the EPG early in July. "Unfortunately, this has been caused by circumstances beyond our control," it said in public forums at the time. "Simply put the bandwidth contract has run out and we have been unable to secure a new arrangement."

Essentially, the companies who contracted 4TV and InView to supply EPG data are no longer willing to pay it do so - or can't. DigiFusion, for example, was completely acquired by Turkish CE giant Beko in 2005 and no longer operates in the UK.

No new box using the 4TV EPG has shipped for four years, so those that do are clearly well out of warranty - even those whose manufacturers are still operating.

None of the boxes were authorised to carry the Freeview label, even though they were compatible with the service. However, Freeview today said it has "contacted the third party involved to see if a solution can be found".

That's good news for onwners of the old boxes, though we'd argue that now might be a good time to upgrade to some brand spanking new Freeview HD kit. ®

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