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Rovi Switches Off OTA-Delivered Guide Service

Santa Clara, Calif. — If you have an older television, DVD recorder or other device that incorporates an analog version of an onscreen electronic program guide (EPG) from TV Guide, GuidePlus, TV Guide Onscreen or similar service managed by Rovi, you may have noticed your program data has disappeared in recent weeks. 11/27/2012 04:53:00 AM Eastern

Santa Clara, Calif. — If you have an older television, DVD recorder or other device that incorporates an analog version of an onscreen electronic program guide (EPG) from TV Guide, GuidePlus, TV Guide Onscreen or similar service managed by Rovi, you may have noticed your program data has disappeared in recent weeks.

That’s because Rovi, the company that bought and further developed the TV Guide onscreen guide technology and service when it was formerly known as Macrovision, has decided to discontinue sending the data service via over-the-air (OTA) broadcast stations for reception by legacy devices that relied on receiving the special signals in analog and digital broadcast data streams.

Responding to a viewer’s complaint relayed to TWICE by sister publication TV Broadcast, Rovi acknowledged that it began shutting off the service Nov. 1 in select markets on a phased-out basis. Viewers of such devices have started receiving an onscreen message this month stating:

“Beginning on Nov. 1, 2012, and completing in April 2013, Rovi will be discontinuing the broadcast data service for consumer electronic guides in North America. The guides known as Guide Plus+, TV Guide on Screen and the Rovi Guide will no longer have the ability to receive data via the broadcast data service. Please contact your CE Manufacturer for further details.”

In many cases, the device manufacturers are instructing consumers of these legacy devices to reset them and re-initialize them without enabling the onscreen guide option, so it will no longer appear.

In a statement sent to TWICE, Rovi confirmed that “it is discontinuing its over-the-air transmission of television listings in North America. Consumer electronic devices in North America that do not use an Internet connection to receive guide data will be impacted by this change. These devices will no longer have access to guide data; as such the guides on these devices will no longer be functional.”

 The company said the decision to discontinue the OTA-type data service was a result “of a number of factors, including the fact that the consumer electronics ecosystem is in general undergoing a transition to digital data services delivered through the Internet, which has resulted in a decline of broadcast data usage.”

 For legacy equipment, Rovi explained it has relied on traditional OTA data broadcast service providers to transmit programming information to the variously branded onscreen guides. The agreements with these service providers are in the process of ending as a result of the market change, Rovi said.

Additionally, cable television systems are beginning to encrypt their signals which will disrupt the transmission of the data through broadcast services.  

Rovi Guides receiving data via an Internet connection, such as an Internet-connected TV, will not be affected with this shut-off, the company said.

Approximately 20 percent of markets had been terminated as of Nov. 1, and the rest will be discontinued over the next six months.

The news was received with outrage on online A/V forums from a number of consumers who continue to rely on OTA broadcast data to tune and program their various A/V products.

 The Rovi OTA guide services were incorporated in equipment offered by most major consumer electronics brands for a number of years before the Internet rose to prominence as the delivery vehicle of choice for such technology.                                                                                             

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