Last night, Wednesday Oct 7, I decided to record the Hey Hey Reunion to watch back later in the night so I could fast forward through any bits I did not want or need to see – such as musical performances or when they tell you what prizes you can win on games like Plucka Duck, and the like.
At our house, we also wanted to see Celebrity Master chef , Border Security, City Homicide and United States of Tara. And that’s not including a few shows on Foxtel that needed to be recorded to watch later as well. This was pretty much the same position as Wednesday Sept 30 where we decided not to record Hey Hey Reunion as it was originally scheduled to air an encore on the Saturday night – which, as we now know, did not happen.
We have an IQ2 so we set about programming it to record everything just mentioned except for Border Security which we decided we would watch live as it was only half an hour long and not so bad as far as ads and “coming up next” bits go. IQ2 of course allows you to record two channels at once while watching a third.
In theory, this would have worked. With Hey Hey set to record until 10pm on Nine, that meant only one other show could be recorded at the same time. We programmed it so that at 7.30, Celebrity Masterchef would record, followed by City Homicide at 8.30 then United States of Tara at 9.30. Foxtel shows such as 30 Rock on TV1 were bumped out of the night and moved to their weekend repeats as even the TV1+2 airing at 9.30 was a conflict.
Some time during the day, Ten updated their EPG so that Celebrity Masterchef would air from 7.31 to 8.38. That meant the IQ2 decided – without telling us – that it could not record Celebrity Masterchef as it can only record two shows at once. The show simply dropped of the night’ recording without any notice as it would have meant the IQ2 would have been recording from three channels at once form 8.30 – 8.38. Luckily, I checked to make sure everything was recording as programmed at 7.30.
Upon finding that Celebrity Masterchef was no longer on the planner list for recording, I put it back in. The it told me that in order to record it I had to cancel City Homicide. As we know, Seven and Nine do not update their EPGs so City Homicide – although always starting between 5 and 10 minutes late – still shows as 8.30 – 9.30. Knowing that it will be late, especially since Border Security finished at 8.06, I manually put in City Homicide for 8.38 – 9.40 (allowing an extra two minutes in case it finished later).
The IQ2 said I would have to cancel United Stated of Tara in order to make this recording. So I thought, OK, Tara repeats on ABC2 Thursday at 9.30. So I then chose to put Tara in at 9.30 Thursday. Now – moving to Thursday, at 8.30 I had Chuck on FOX8 programmed as well as Beauty and the Geek at 8.30 on Seven, as well as the Amazing Race at 9.30. The IQ2 told me that if I wanted to record United states of Tara at 9.30 Tuesday, I would have to delete Amazing Race. I thought – why – there are only two shows recording at once here. I then look at Chuck and see that it is programmed with a finishing time of 9.31. Thus it thinks it has to record three channels at once at 9.30-9.31 and says no. So in order to get Tara in I have to chose to record Chuck on FOX8+2 at 10.30. Thank fully no conflicts there, that was the end of it.
So because Ten, and most other channels including the ABC and FOX8 update their EPGs to represent exact starting and finishing times, in order to record Celebrity Masterchef I had to make all of these changes and rearrange the best part two nights of programming to accommodate it. It should not be this hard to record and watch all the shows you want to!
There are a number of issues here that cause frustration in making sure we see the TV we want to – both relating to the networks and the IQ2.
1. Ten update their EPG to exact times but Seven and Nine do not – meaning that if you are planning to record two shows from 8.30, the 7.30 show from Ten which will say finishing at 8.31 or so will simply not record – and does so without warning. If they did not update the EPG and maintained the same finishing time of 8.30 that Seven and Nine do, then there would not be a problem.
2. The IQ2 can record three channels at once (but not four). It does this when it is recording overruns. We have the IQ set up to record 10 minute overruns – so if a show finishes at 8.30, the unit will record until 8.40. Even if you have two shows programmed to record at 8.30 on two different channels, the ten minute overrun on the first show will still record. When I say “but not four” – that means if you record two shows at 7.30 that are on two different channels then another two at 8.30 that are on two more different channels, then only one of the 7.30 shows will have the ten minute overrun recorded, while the other won’t. The result is, that for Ten minutes, you are recording three shows at once. Which leads to the next point.
3. The IQ2 should be able to handle a three channel overlap of up to Ten minutes even if that means sacrificing the ability to live pause or rewind the channel being watched live. It is clear that it can record three channels at once when it handles overruns. It should not care about there being a minute or even 8 minutes of overlap of recording three channels. The user should not have to reprogram their whole nights viewing over a matter of minutes. Perhaps future updates could solve this problem.
4. The IQ2 should alert the user whenever there are changes to what the user has programmed in for recording. Whether it be a show has been cancelled from the schedule, moved times or simply cannot record because of conflicts, there should be an alert that prompts the user to address the situation.
5. The problem of shows not recording due to conflicts can cause havoc to series links programmed in. Series link only schedules the next appearance of the show in the planned recording list. For a daily show, that means only the next days’ airing of the show will be in the planner to record, but not days in advance. That means you can program two shows to record at once in a time where a series link show will also want to record without knowing it. In this case, the IQ2 usually does not record the series linked show in favour for the two that have been programmed. Again – a notification when the series link updates its next day if the show will conflict would help alleviate this problem. Better yet, the IQ2 should put ALL future times of a series linked show in the planner to record – so in the case of a Monday – Friday show, that means there would be the next five already in to record. That way, you would not inadvertently program another two shows in at the same time as one you have series linked.
6. All channels should follow the same rules as far as EPGs and program start and finish times go. I have said enough about accuracy of TV guides elsewhere, but Seven and Nine continue to run late regularly and without notice, And Ten does the same, but with their EPG being up to date and the other two not, then the result is recording conflict and a lot of confused viewers. The result is more likely to drive viewers away as opposed to keeping them in on the pretence of an archaic strategy based on messing with start and finishing times in order to prevent viewers from changing channels.
All of the above was for the sake of one show from one channel which at least displays accurate start and finishing times. The fun was not over yet after the mass re-program. Given last weeks’ Hey Hey went half an hour over (we watched the last hour but had planned to watch the rest on the encore that never happened) we assumed the same would happen this week and set our IQ2 to record the following show – an encore of the second episode of the Apprentice Australia. Sure enough, Hey Hey ran late. But something strange happened to Nine’s EPG. Hey Hey still showed as finishing at 10pm, and the Apprentice changed to starting at 10.30. There was an empty block from 10.00 – 10.30 that you could not chose to record. So again, I had to manually program around that to get in the half hour from 10.00 – 10.30.
So in playing back Hey Hey, we watched the recording from 7.30 – 10.10 (including the 10 minute record overrun), followed by the manually put in half hour block to cover from 10.10 – 10.30, followed by a third recording which was programmed as the Apprentice Australia. And for anyone who did actually want to see the Apprentice (if any) that show and the news that followed were then running half an hour late.
Again – it should not be this hard. Sure – 2.3 million watched Hey Hey live, but for those of us who didn’t – possibly many thousands of others, how hard did Nine make it to capture the whole show? How hard is it to keep the EPG up to date? Channel nine ALWAYS run half an hour late after a live event – whether it is sport or a live show like Hey Hey. Although the Apprentice was updated to 10.30 instead of 10.00pm start, the fact Hey Hey finished at 11 means it was technically half an hour over the updated time. This cuases absolute havoc for all subsequent programming after the event and the fact that they do not program to take these times into account is a blatant disregard for viewers.