E VRT: Interactive television pilot in Flanders
2.5. Content consumption processes
A special button on the remote control gives access to the main DHP menu. There
are nine options: the Electronic Program Guide (EPG), news, sport, more TV
channels, video, info, entertainment, communication and surfing.
The EPG gives an overview of all the TV programmes from all the channels available
in the area of the test panel. Additional information on these programmes is
provided as well. There is the record button directly from the EPG but this only
works for those programmes transmitted digitally via DBV T. In practice it means
that only the VRT programmes are available. The VRT has not been able (yet) to
persuade the commercial TV stations to join the project. This is not very favorable
for the viewers , explained Peter Goyvaerts. We are open for other partners to join
a common, open platform for digital television , he continues. We must avoid the
situation where viewers need to have two or three different set top boxes .
But many players are reluctant, according to Peter Suetens. If you are able to offer
all TV stations on the EPG, you are moving to a system that is completely different
from today s broadcasting. At the moment broadcasters rely heavily on their brand
and do everything possible to avoid viewers from changing channel. With the EPG,
you can just indicate which programmes you would like to see without bothering
about which station they come from. This would take you completely away from the
traditional programming schedules of broadcasting .
Tivo and ReplayTV are the most important Personal Video Recording (PVR) players
in the US. Tivo sells a digital PVR with a service. It is impossible to manage the 200
channels available in the US. Tivo offers an EPG of what is on offer and enables
people to record what they want, including intelligent personalisation and preference
features. It may be difficult though, to translate this model to Europe given the
language difference and the cultural difference of dubbing countries versus subtitle
News and sport deal with the traditional news information. The latest news and
sports programmes are available for viewing in original format as broadcast live and
also in itemized format. Thus viewers can just watch those news items they are
interested in. Breaking news in text format is also provided, possibly enriched with
video and/or audio. Special news dossiers are composed as well, on specific themes
such as World Cup Football. These are updated regularly.
Under the More TV Channels heading, additional virtual thematic channels are
provided. These are pushed and thematically stored on the hard disk of the box, for
instance Ketnet for kids or the crimi channel for fans of criminal series like
Inspector Morse Users can look at episodes of different series whenever they like.
The episodes are renewed every week. Digital radio is offered there as well. The
video link gives access to recorded video programmes
and to the DVD/CDRom
player. Belgacom plans to offer for pay video on demand services in the near future.
Info features super teletext, i.e. the traditional teletext information (e.g. weather
info, local government info, etc.) but in a different layout, enriched with images
and/or video. A telephone and cinema directory is also available. Entertainment is
5. See also a report from Durlacher on the potential implications of the PVR and EPG on the future of
broadcasting: Wittingham, 2000.
6. It is argued that retrieving recorded programs is as user friendly as recording them. Moreover the
PVR has the advantage that, if you want to record something, you don t need to look for an
empty VCR cassette.