The release went on to say; "Each network will be providing up to 7 days program data which is expected to be receivable free of charge by any digital set top box, integrated television or personal video recorder (PVR) that has an EPG functionality."
The statements appear to be a back flip after Free TV Australia revealed earlier this year it would encrypt its EPG to limit access to approved hardware.
Earlier this week, Win TV announced it would issue a truly free EPG. While Free TV Australia responded to WIN TV's announcement with claims the upcoming EPG will work with any "digital set top box", the very same day Free TV Australia chief executive Julie Flynn revealed this is not the case in a confidential letter to Australian Digital Suppliers Industry Forum (ADSIF) members, obtained by ITWire.
"Broadcasters are not authorising the use of the programs listing data in PVRs where 'ad-skip' functionality goes beyond a maximum fast forward speed of x60; broadcasters reserve their rights with respect to those suppliers," Flynn wrote in the letter ADSIF, dated the same day this week as the above media release.
"In addition, the PVR's [sic] which display the EPG must employ adequate copy protection measures to prevent the redistribution of free to air content outside the home or on the internet... Broadcasters reserve their rights subject to the Commonwealth Copyright Act 1968, to take legal action at any time for copyright infringement where program listings are used in contravention of these terms."
According to industry sources, existing digital TV receivers will require at least a firmware upgrade to be compatible with the new EPG. Ad-skipping PVRs, such as those from Beyonwiz and Topfield, will still be denied access to the new service. So on the very same day Free TV Australia issued a press release stating the EPG would be free to "any digital set top box, integrated television or personal video recorder", it wrote a letter to hardware makers telling them this is not true,
In other words, this week's announcement from Free TV Australia was designed to create the illusion of benefiting Australian consumers, without actually changing anything. Once again the television industry plays viewers for idiots.