[mythtv-users] Getting local-access stations into Schedules Direct

f-myth-users at media.mit.edu f-myth-users at media.mit.edu
Wed Nov 4 01:38:12 UTC 2009

    > Date: Tue, 03 Nov 2009 08:38:51 -0600
    > From: Robert Eden <rmeden at yahoo.com>

    > On 11/1/2009 1:56 AM, f-myth-users at media.mit.edu wrote:
    > > Ah, I missed that the first time though.  Thanks.  But I was more
    > > thinking about how the station -exports- its data to XML, not how
    > > I inhale it; obviously it depends on where there data comes from,
    > > but I presume there are also some tools to take common formats and
    > > produce something reasonable.

    > You would think.... but when Zap2IT Labs shut down and we were looking 
    > into how to recover (before SD) we contacted a number of stations 
    > looking for a direct feed.  Basically it's a mess. There is no standard 
    > format!  Some have it in word, some excel, some proprietary formats.  
    > XMLTV actually seemed to be the closest thing to a "standard" format! We 
    > were shocked to find that within a TV station, it's often easier/cheaper 
    > for them to buy a Tribune feed than to transfer the data internally!

*sigh*... :)

I'm actually not all that shocked.  We all know that large corporations
often have really badly messed-up internal information flows.  Let me
tell you about the couple of times I was trying to get residential
ISDN installed back in the 90's... :)

Though I guess I -am- surprised that, even though there was no
standard -internal- mechanism, Tribune was willing to take the
data in a variety of haphazard formats and then deal with it
themselves.  Guess they can charge enough at both ends to make
it worth their while.  [And no doubt knew that asking the stations
to fix it internally was -far- beyond their likely competence...
---and given Brian Wood's hilarious description, that's probably

[If stations are buying Tribune feeds, then last-minute changes might
blindside them internally; I have some that often don't decide what
they're airing on certain days until pretty late---late enough that
the data can't make it into SD in time, at least, so either one slot
is totally wrong, or the entire day is TBA.  The History Channel seems
a recent and frequent offender for their Sunday lineups, for example
---often TBA for 12 hours at a stretch.]

I guess this means I won't waste my time trying to find tools to
convert from the stations' formats into XML (assuming they're amenable
in the first place) and will either tell their people where to find
the format documentation, or I'll write the tools myself, depending on
whether they want to cope in-house or draft me to do the work...

    > So Tribune (and presumably the other US source Rovi/Macrovision/Gemstar) 
    > has to retype a lot of the data.   You would think the stations would 
    > want to standardize on something (even CSV!) at least for internal use, 
    > but that's not the case.  I can think of a few logical reasons for this, 
    > but still find it crazy.  The mess is probably one reason why the data 
    > costs so much.

I'll bet.

[But my impression was also that Tribune retyped the program
descriptions, at least, even if they would prefer to have the rest of
the data machine-transferrable, so that Tribune owned the copyright to
the feed as a "creative work".  Is this incorrect?]

(Some stations provide enormously-detailed program information (e.g.
Sundance) that I wish could soemhow be transferred down into the stuff
that SD provides, but I imagine they either don't want to bundle it in
or there's nowhere logical in the XML to put it, e.g., you still want
the one-liner descriptions for most purposes but it'd be nice to have
"give me Sundance's four paragraphs of history about this film" somewhere
in the UI---but the UI ain't got it 'cause the XML ain't got it.  Having
to use their terrible Flash-based website to find it is just too much work. :)

Thanks again!

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