Freeview HD – Windows Media Center Guide Data Tool (beta)

As previously mentioned the only problem with Freeview HD in Windows Media Center is the missing guide data for the HD channels. There are four channels missing guide data: BBC 1 HD, ITV1 HD, Channel 4 HD and the BBC HD channel.

The first 3 are easy to sort out which is documented bellow but for the BBC HD channel there is no guide data available via Media Center so to get the guide data working I have developed a small program that will download the EPG data and then import it in to Windows Media Center.

To use the application you will need to download and unzip the xmltv tool, this is an open source application for download EPG data. My application configures and make use of this service to get the EPG data, it then converts it to a Windows Media Center compatible format and loads it into Media Center. There is also an option to schedule the download to update the EPG daily

You can download xmltv from here, once you have download it extract the zip file to the local machine (I would recommend Documents\xmltv) and then install the application which you can download from

EDIT You can also get xmltv in a setup file

In a future build it will also download the other HD channels guide data but for now see bellow for to get their EPG data setup






















Setting up BBC 1 HD, ITV1 HD, Channel 4 HD

Setting up the missing data is pretty easy, you just tell Windows Media Center to use the guide data for the standard channels

Load Windows Media Center and go to Tasks, Settings, TV, Guide and Edit Channels


















Select the the channel eg BBC 1 HD, select Edit Listings

















Select the normal SD channel eg BBC 1















Select Copy listings


















Click Save and you can make sure its labeled correctly eg BBC 1 HD


















So that will get the 3 channels sorted and my BBC HD channel will fix the other, you will then have a complete Freeview HD Media Center System


About the author Ian Dixon:
Ian Dixon is a Microsoft MVP (Most Valuable Professional), founder of tech site and producer of the weekly The Digital Lifestyle Show podcast. Ian has been writing and talking about Windows for over 10 years and has over 20 years in IT as an IT Manager. Ian thousands of followers on Twitter and Facebook and over 4 million views on his YouTube channel.
  • penshaw
    Ian, many thanks for the BBC HD update … great.
    Is it possible to change the update schedule from 04 am ?
  • Ian Dixon
    You can change the schedule using task scheduler. Go to Start and typing “task scheduler”, press enter
    find the task DownloadHD and click on the task tab. In there you can change the time to whatever you want

    I will add that feature to the next build

  • penshaw
    Thanks again Ian, schedule update change worked fine.
  • James
    Could you not add the BBC HD guide data from Virgin Media? I know when I had a HD PVR with a V+ attached it picked up BBC HD fine, most likely on the Sky guide as well.
  • Ian Dixon
    When you have a Freeview tuner out of the box you do not have access to Virgin or Sky EPG data
  • rustybucket
    Hi Ian – looks like a great tool you’ve put together. – I’m having a problem getting at it though. I’ve tried to create a user account (in fact 2 with different details) but I’m unable to login to the site to download the tool.

    Thanks again for a great tool and I look forward to getting my hands on it :)

  • madlan
    Hi Ian, looking forward to the update, the current fix of mapping the SD channels means both inControl and mychannellogos do not work well.
  • NMP
    Ian, many thanks for a great solution, although I’m having a problem which is more annoying than a concern. I’m using Win7 Ultimate x64 and my issue is tomorrows (or any next day onward) program starting times after the three HD Preview scheduled slots are not correct. Programs on this HD channel usually start at 4pm, mine report as starting at 2am or 10pm for example, I’ve also needed to change the scheduled update time from 4am to 8am as the earlier one doesn’t change these ‘wrong times’ the latter one does correct it for the current days viewing though, hope this makes sense, any ideas?
  • madlan
    Hi Ian,
    After doing a second scan to add missing channels BBC HD has lost it’s guide data. I’ve tried reinstalling your application and running import.bat but nothings showing?
  • Ian Dixon
    I have noticed a problem with the time of the import, I think the XMLTV guide data or the way Media Center brings the data in is relevant to the current time. I have changed my time to 8am and it worked better

    @Madlan try running the import at 8am

  • madlan
    I’ve changed the scheduled task to 8am, (With “Wake to perform task”) enabled. Will update tomorrow. Thanks.
  • DexterF
    Hi Ian,

    Thanks for the Freeview HD – Windows Media Center Guide Data Tool. Just one minor problem existed for me within Windows 7. Would not correctly work in protected User folders, so installed into the root directory of the hard drive i.e. “C;\XMLTV”.

  • madlan
    Hi Ian, Strangely it worked when scheduled to 8am – will changing it cause any issues?
  • johnnyRO
    I have a problem , i can’t find the DownloadHD task, it doesn’t appear in task scheduler. I have xmltv unzipped in Documents and i installed the app as well. My system is win7 pro 64 bit. Any advice anyone?
  • Ian Dixon
    Try installing to a folder away from Documents, eg c:\xmltv, i think there is a permissions issue
  • lee.oades
    Great stuff Ian. Note that the issue that i was having was because I’d installed xmltv into a directory with a space in the name – please can you update your download.cmd to have quotes around the path. Also, this lead to a message saying that the guide had been update successfully when in fact nothing had happened. Cheers, Lee
  • Ian Dixon
    Thanks Lee, I will include that in the next update
  • lee.oades
    Actually, I’ve realised that the times are all shifted along. The raw data looks fine so I guess something’s gone awry in the conversion process?
  • lee.oades
    OK. After a little investigating, the first item in the MXF file “BBC HD Preview” has an 8 hour duration, and coincidentally, that is the error by which the times are offset. I manually ended the file from 6am start, 8 hour duration to 2pm start, 0 duration, and ran the import.cmd again. Everything is not aligned properly. I suspect that the initial duration is being applied twice somehow.
  • jartweb
    I concur with Lee’s comment on the corrupt MFX file but I could not fix it quickly by manual editing and re-importing. For example, it shows that today (Sat 8 Jan) we have only BBC HD Preview until 22:00 when Waybulu starts. Using an internet EPG site, I can see that in reality, Waybulu starts at 14:00, so it seems like the first item is offset by 8 hours. Since the others are linked to this item, the whole schedule gets messed up. This is based on an update of the MXF file downloaded yesterday.

    If I recall correctly, the first few hours of data are correct in the MXF file, but it goes askew on the second day. Yesterday, just after downloading the file and importing it, the EPG was correct for a while, however scrolling forwards to the entries for today showed the error I mention above. It seems that an element(s) in the file are wrong at various times.

    Looking in detail at the file, I found that the entries for the BBC HD Preview item are being duplicated in the table:

    In the table, these are all labelled as BBC HD Preview. So it seems like it is including DUPLICATE entries for the 8 hour long preview programme and these are therefore shifting the latter parts of the EPG off by 8 hours. I guess I could manually edit out all of these (there are multiple duplicates) but I’d need to have to do that after each update.

    I guess this is a problem with xmltv rather than your importer tool ?

    BTW, many thanks Ian for this work in the absence of a proper EPG data source from MS.


  • morph
    I hadn’t thought of copying the regular channels’ listing info over, so thanks for that!
    however, i’m having trouble with your patch for the BBC HD channel. I’ve extracted the XMLTV folder to my documents but when i try and run the Freeview HD guide i’m told that it can’t find the hd.xml file in the folder (and therefore it can’t download the EPG data). any ideas?
    apologies if i’m being thick!
  • jartweb
    Just a quick addition – it seems that there is an extra copy of the entry for BBC HD preview in he hd.xml file. There appear to be three entries for this programme – the first two are correct (one after the other), then the third entry seems to be a duplicate of the second one.Maybe this is the one that is messing up the mxf.xml file when it gets imported? This behaviour is repeated each time there is a pair if entries for that Programme in the listing.
  • Ian Dixon
    Thanks for the comments, I am going to have a look at the conversion issues
  • Ian Dixon
    @morph try dropping the xmlv in to its own folder eg C:\xmltv
  • jartweb
    @Ian – I think it’s possibly the xmltv download that is ‘corrupt’ . If I understand correctly, xmltv downloads the hd.xml file which your utility then parses and creates the mxf file, before calling the import command to load it into MCE. It seems that the hd.xml file is not correct and so your utility is using bad data to start with. My solution would be either to scan the mxf file looking for duplicates in the last table, or scan for them in the hd.xml file, and remove. My quick scan suggests that they are easier to spot in your mxf file, but I don’t know what parsing/compiler you are using.

    Hope this helps :-)

  • Ian Dixon
    @jartweb thanks for the help. Your right, if its wrong in hd.xml then it will be wrong in the mxf file. I have a feeling it will be easier to work with the mxf but don’t know until I try it. I have noticed that if I change the download time to 8am it seems to stay in sync for that day.
  • jartweb
    @Ian – I think the problem occurs when it meets the first doubled example of the BBC HD Preview programme. If I remember correctly, the long period when the channel just displays BBC HD Preview (from early am until about 2.30 pm) is split into two programme listings. I think the first one lasts until about 7 or 8 am, and the second one then lasts up until programmes resume at 2.30 pm. If the download occurs at 8 am, then it is timed to be just after the start of the second copy of BBC HD Preview, so, for the first day, it only encounters ONE listing for BBC HD Preview. Once the schedule reaches the early hours of the next day, there will be the double listing, and then it goes awry.
  • Ian Dixon
    @jartweb so maybe I can manually clean the BBC HD Preview entries
  • Pixelz
    @Ian, – I believe the problem is caused by duplicate entries for BBC HD Preview programmes which are present in the data returned by the tv_grab_uk_bleb grabber. These duplicates are causing XMLTV2MXF to offset the subsequent start times in the mxf data by around 8 hours each time.

    I wrote an XSL Transform to automatically strip out the duplcates from the xmltv file before it’s converted to mxf. Hopefully, it can be used in a new release of your tool. You can test the conversion from a command line as follows —

    msxsl bbchd.xml removeduplicates.xsl -o bbchd-fixed.xml

    and the removeduplicates.xsl file should look like this —

  • Ian Dixon
    @Pixelz thanks! That looks great, I am going to try and put it in the new build
  • jartweb
    Just a quick note for anyone reaching the bottom of this thread, the updated software has been made available by Ian:

  • Alisdair
    Hi Ian,

    I am having a problem that it says it cant find the hd.xml file and it is correct, this is not on my system – help please!


    • Ian Dixon
      You don’t need this tool anymore. All the EPG data is transmitted now
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