Here's a follow-up to the article I wrote a few hours earlier, which you can read below. Intrepid reader Carolyn Brown sent along a link here to an article in Slate that explains how the bugaboo I wrote about this morning -- having the DVR recording of a sporting event not cut off early -- isn't a problem at all in the United Kingdom and Australia. As the article by Josh Levin notes --
Now, let us take a journey to this magical land where DVRs work as they should. Our tour guide is Raj Patel, the chief solutions architect for the United Kingdom’s Freesat, a partnership between ITV and the BBC that provides free satellite TV service to 1.7 million homes. Patel explains that broadcasters supply Freesat and certain other international television providers with what’s called “present and following” information—that is, the identity of the program that’s airing right now and the one that’s scheduled to air next. Even if a program (like, say, a sporting event) is supposed to end at 10:30 p.m., the broadcaster will not change that present and following data until the game is actually over. A customer’s DVR, in turn, will not stop recording until it’s been signaled that the present and following information has changed. This feature is called “accurate recording,” and that’s exactly what it is. It means you’ll never miss the end of a game—not even a Champions League final that goes into extra time.
Levin goes on to explain that the technology exists in the United States and could work here under our broadcast standards, and he talks with several hardware companies and broadcasters about why it's not available.
One reasons seems to be that with so many people time-shifting these days, broadcasters want to retain that last group of people who will watch TV live, which they might not as readily if they thought they might lose the end of a game. (This is somewhat understandable, though mostly not, since it's clearly not a problem in the U.K. and Australia. And generally, as has been shown when games are tape-delayed and people scream bloody murder, people do want to watch sports live.) Also, when a spokesman for Tivo comments that there isn't a demand from customers for the service, author Levin rightly notes -- "I don’t think that’s evidence American TV viewers don’t want accurate recording. Rather, it reveals that they don’t know it exists. Well, America, it does exist, and it sounds amazing. Email your cable company. Call every TV station. Tweet at your congressman. Leave a copy of this article under your neighbor’s door. Say it loud, everyone: We want accurate recording, and we want it now."
To be clear, this doesn't appear to address the initial issue of my article -- movies and TV shows that bleed over a few minutes. But it's a leap in the right direction.
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Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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