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Electronic program guide

An electronic program (or programme) guide (EPG) is a program schedule, typically broadcast alongside digital television or radio signals. These signals may arrive via cable TV, satellite TV, cable radio, satellite radio, or via over-the-air terrestrial broadcast stations.

By navigating through an EPG on a receiving device, typically a television screen or its set-top box, users can see more information about the current program and about future programs. A graphical user interface, with program titles, channels (and subchannels if applicable), and times on a grid is usually displayed, with the option to select more information on each program. Radios may include a simpler, more text-based display.

An EPG allows the viewer to take advantage of features such as program summaries, search by subject or channel, immediate access to the selected program, reminders, and parental control functions. It also enables services such as video on demand, which may be free or pay-per-view. If the device is capable of it, an EPG can enable one-touch recording of programs, such as some DirecTV IRDs can do with a VCR and an attached infrared emitter (which emulates a remote control).

EPGs are typically sent within the broadcast transport stream (included in teletext, like MHP), or alongside it in a special data channel. The ATSC standard for DTV uses tables sent in each station's PSIP, for example. Users of some systems, notably TiVo, use a dial-up modem to retrieve EPG listings from a third-party server, if there are only analog TV signals available. In the U.S., these devices receive time signals from local PBS TV network affiliates, so that they can record on time.

See also: DTT, NexTView.

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