GB2466692A - Recorder that records everything except exclusions - Google Patents

Recorder that records everything except exclusions Download PDF

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Publication number
GB2466692A
GB2466692A GB0920174A GB0920174A GB2466692A GB 2466692 A GB2466692 A GB 2466692A GB 0920174 A GB0920174 A GB 0920174A GB 0920174 A GB0920174 A GB 0920174A GB 2466692 A GB2466692 A GB 2466692A
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United Kingdom
Prior art keywords
content
media content
user
items
recorder
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Granted
Application number
GB0920174A
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GB2466692B (en
GB0920174D0 (en
Inventor
Roy Leonard Campbell
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Roy Leonard Campbell
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Priority to GB0823685A priority Critical patent/GB0823685D0/en
Application filed by Roy Leonard Campbell filed Critical Roy Leonard Campbell
Publication of GB0920174D0 publication Critical patent/GB0920174D0/en
Publication of GB2466692A publication Critical patent/GB2466692A/en
Application granted granted Critical
Publication of GB2466692B publication Critical patent/GB2466692B/en
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Classifications

    • HELECTRICITY
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    • H04N21/41Structure of client; Structure of client peripherals
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    • H04N21/4147PVR [Personal Video Recorder]
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    • H04N21/432Content retrieval operation from a local storage medium, e.g. hard-disk
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    • H04N21/433Content storage operation, e.g. storage operation in response to a pause request, caching operations
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    • H04N21/458Scheduling content for creating a personalised stream, e.g. by combining a locally stored advertisement with an incoming stream; Updating operations, e.g. for OS modules ; time-related management operations
    • H04N21/4583Automatically resolving scheduling conflicts, e.g. when a recording by reservation has been programmed for two programs in the same time slot
    • HELECTRICITY
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    • H04N21/462Content or additional data management, e.g. creating a master electronic program guide from data received from the Internet and a Head-end, controlling the complexity of a video stream by scaling the resolution or bit-rate based on the client capabilities
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    • H04N21/47End-user applications
    • H04N21/472End-user interface for requesting content, additional data or services; End-user interface for interacting with content, e.g. for content reservation or setting reminders, for requesting event notification, for manipulating displayed content
    • H04N21/47214End-user interface for requesting content, additional data or services; End-user interface for interacting with content, e.g. for content reservation or setting reminders, for requesting event notification, for manipulating displayed content for content reservation or setting reminders; for requesting event notification, e.g. of sport results or stock market
    • HELECTRICITY
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    • H04N21/47End-user applications
    • H04N21/475End-user interface for inputting end-user data, e.g. personal identification number [PIN], preference data
    • H04N21/4755End-user interface for inputting end-user data, e.g. personal identification number [PIN], preference data for defining user preferences, e.g. favourite actors or genre
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04NPICTORIAL COMMUNICATION, e.g. TELEVISION
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    • H04N21/40Client devices specifically adapted for the reception of or interaction with content, e.g. set-top-box [STB]; Operations thereof
    • H04N21/47End-user applications
    • H04N21/475End-user interface for inputting end-user data, e.g. personal identification number [PIN], preference data
    • H04N21/4756End-user interface for inputting end-user data, e.g. personal identification number [PIN], preference data for rating content, e.g. scoring a recommended movie
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
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    • H04N21/80Generation or processing of content or additional data by content creator independently of the distribution process; Content per se
    • H04N21/83Generation or processing of protective or descriptive data associated with content; Content structuring
    • H04N21/84Generation or processing of descriptive data, e.g. content descriptors
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04NPICTORIAL COMMUNICATION, e.g. TELEVISION
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    • H04N5/45Picture in picture
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04NPICTORIAL COMMUNICATION, e.g. TELEVISION
    • H04N7/00Television systems
    • H04N7/16Analogue secrecy systems; Analogue subscription systems
    • H04N7/162Authorising the user terminal, e.g. by paying; Registering the use of a subscription channel, e.g. billing
    • H04N7/163Authorising the user terminal, e.g. by paying; Registering the use of a subscription channel, e.g. billing by receiver means only
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04NPICTORIAL COMMUNICATION, e.g. TELEVISION
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    • H04N21/43Processing of content or additional data, e.g. demultiplexing additional data from a digital video stream; Elementary client operations, e.g. monitoring of home network, synchronizing decoder's clock; Client middleware
    • H04N21/44Processing of video elementary streams, e.g. splicing a video clip retrieved from local storage with an incoming video stream, rendering scenes according to MPEG-4 scene graphs
    • H04N21/4402Processing of video elementary streams, e.g. splicing a video clip retrieved from local storage with an incoming video stream, rendering scenes according to MPEG-4 scene graphs involving reformatting operations of video signals for household redistribution, storage or real-time display
    • H04N21/440236Processing of video elementary streams, e.g. splicing a video clip retrieved from local storage with an incoming video stream, rendering scenes according to MPEG-4 scene graphs involving reformatting operations of video signals for household redistribution, storage or real-time display by media transcoding, e.g. video is transformed into a slideshow of still pictures, audio is converted into text
    • HELECTRICITY
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    • H04NPICTORIAL COMMUNICATION, e.g. TELEVISION
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    • H04N21/43Processing of content or additional data, e.g. demultiplexing additional data from a digital video stream; Elementary client operations, e.g. monitoring of home network, synchronizing decoder's clock; Client middleware
    • H04N21/442Monitoring of processes or resources, e.g. detecting the failure of a recording device, monitoring the downstream bandwidth, the number of times a movie has been viewed, the storage space available from the internal hard disk
    • H04N21/4424Monitoring of the internal components or processes of the client device, e.g. CPU or memory load, processing speed, timer, counter or percentage of the hard disk space used
    • HELECTRICITY
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    • H04N21/80Generation or processing of content or additional data by content creator independently of the distribution process; Content per se
    • H04N21/83Generation or processing of protective or descriptive data associated with content; Content structuring
    • H04N21/835Generation of protective data, e.g. certificates
    • H04N21/8352Generation of protective data, e.g. certificates involving content or source identification data, e.g. Unique Material Identifier [UMID]

Abstract

An apparatus for recording media content comprises one or more receivers 2 for receiving media content from content sources 4 and storage means 3 for recording the content. Control means 15, 16, 17, 18, 19 is configured to automatically prevent the recording of content based on at least one criteria predefined by a user such as genre, channel, artist, repeated or previously viewed content. The control means is configured, without user selection, to automatically record all other content received by the receivers that has not been prevented from being recorded. The content may be received from terrestrial, satellite, cable or network sources. Recordings may be deleted and be replaced with a link to an alternative source of the programme material. Recording conflicts can be identified. Feedback on the content may be acquired and recordings may be archived. Content may be fingerprinted to aid identification of recordings. Editing means may be provided to produce a single condensed item from multiple items of topical content.

Description

Recording media content

Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to a method of, and an apparatus for, recording media content.

Background of the Invention

In the early years of television's mass popularity, often referred to as "The golden age of television" a viewer would typically switch on the television (TV), adjust the volume and then relax to a themed programme of TV shows, perhaps changing channel once or twice in several hours. Today's viewer typically has at least two remote controls, one for the TV and one for a set top box (or set top box/recorder combination) and is presented with about 100 small buttons giving access to some 500 channels, many with highly varying volume levels, no scheduling or day parting and continuously repeated content.

It is generally accepted that the quality of broadcast television content has not risen in proportion with the number of channels that have become available.

Attempting to program a sequenced evening's entertainment at an acceptable sound level has become a complicated task that requires frequent use of the remote controls, especially taking into account the increasingly loud and more frequent repeated interruptions for channel branding, advertisements, programme trailers and the like. Furthermore, for family viewing, adult content programme screening and a parental lock are also necessities; the duties of these features were previously undertaken by the public service broadcasters on behalf of their viewers by using appropriate screening times and overall censorship.

The situation is slightly better when using existing digital video recorders which allow every episode of a known series to be recorded with one recording schedule entry. However, for the bulk of programmes the viewer is still expected to review the published programme listings of many channels (a vast and confusing amount of data), choose the programmes which might be of interest for future recording (based primarily on the promotional information published by the broadcasters) and enter these choices into a recording scheduler of the recorder. This takes a lot of concentrated effort and a large number of keystrokes every week to assemble the forthcoming week's worth of, hopefully entertaining, viewing. On currently available personal video recorders (PVR5) the requirement to schedule for recording 25 hours' viewing (statistically a week's viewing) using an on-screen Electronic Program Guide (EPG) and choosing only 8 channels is in excess of 2,500 button presses. Choosing the programmes first from printed guides is less time consuming and reduces the number of button presses to say 1,000 but this is still labour-intensive and undesirable. If the scheduling task is neglected there will be nothing for the user to view other than live broadcasts. A lack of enthusiasm for the work of pre-scheduling the material to be recorded may explain why it is reported that, in homes with PVRs, only 17% of viewing is of recorded material and 83% is still of live TV.

The advent of video-on-demand delivered via the internet did not improve the situation significantly because video-on-demand services still require individual programmes to be searched and then delivered to an internet- connected device. The number of keystrokes required to obtain video-on-demand can actually be greater per programme than obtaining the same programme using a set top box. A further disadvantage of video-on-demand is that, at present, there is no way of sequencing the obtained programmes.

Furthermore this method of content delivery is bandwidth-hungry and therefore, is currently inadequate for High Definition programme streaming.

Recent technological developments in digital media recorders and associated electronic programme guides have been proposed which attempt to assist the viewer's choice of programmes to be recorded by making recommendations based on the viewer's previous viewing history, on the behaviour patterns of other networked viewers deemed to have similar tastes and on semantic assumptions made by the providers of electronic programme guides. These methods are by their nature inaccurate, require sharing of personal information and are open to the commercial influences of broadcasters and service providers, which may well not be in the viewer's interests.

Whilst the use of digital video recorders and intelligent programme guides can help to provide the viewer with better quality programming and new additional features such as time shifting and "pause and scan", it means that playback no longer has a live feel and is not scheduled by broadcast professionals. This reduces the quality of the viewing experience.

In most cases, the recorded video output reverts to live TV (in the middle of a random programme) as soon as the chosen recording has been played back.

This syncopated TV presentation, requiring as it does continuous user input, is not very relaxing.

Furthermore, in the same way that a personal music player can be perceived solely as a source of pre-recorded music whilst a favourite radio station can be perceived as a friend, the TV loses its place in the home as a companion with the use of existing PVRs.

It is an object of the invention to mitigate the disadvantages of prior art systems for receiving and recording media content.

Summary of the Invention

In accordance with one aspect of the present invention, there is provided a method of recording media content comprising: receiving media content from a content source; and automatically preventing the recordal of content based on at least one criterion predefined by a user and automatically recording in a content store, without user selection, all other received content, said other content being content the recordal of which is not prevented by operation of said at least one criterion.

In accordance with another aspect of the present invention, there is provided an apparatus for recording media content comprising at least one receiver for receiving media content from a content source; storage means for recording content; and control means configured to automatically selectively prevent the recordal of content based on at least one criterion predefined by a user and configured to automatically record, without user selection, all other content received by the at least one receiver, said other content being content the recordal of which is not prevented by operation of said at least one criterion.

An embodiment of the invention provides an apparatus according to said one aspect for recording broadcast media content and comprising: one or more receivers each of which is capable of receiving broadcast media content; and wherein the control means is configured to selectively prevent the delivery to the user of certain received broadcast media content based on the said at least one predefined criterion and wherein the or each receiver is adapted to receive a broadcast channel in accordance with an instruction provided to it so that all broadcast media content whose delivery has not been prevented can be recorded.

The at least one predefined criterion preferably includes one or more of the following: identification of a content channel; a genre oft media content; a format oft media content; a name of an item oft media content; a text string associated with an item of media content; an artist featuring in the media content; the date of production of the content; the fact that an item of media content has been previously delivered to the user; the fact that an item of media content has been recorded previously by the user; and the fact that an item of media content has been previously watched by the user.

In a preferred embodiment of the invention, the means for selectively preventing the delivery of certain media content is adapted to allow delivery of part of an item of media content based on the at least one predefined criterion.

In a further preferred embodiment of the invention, the apparatus comprises a conflict manager that is adapted to identify any recording conflicts that cannot be accommodated by the plurality of receivers.

Preferably, the apparatus further comprises a removal interface in operative association with the storage means, the removal interface being arranged to access the storage means so as to identify and remove an item of recorded media content therefrom, wherein the removal interface is adapted to identify the item of recorded media content based on at least one further predefined criterion.

In another preferred embodiment of the invention, the apparatus comprises an archiving interface in operative association with the storage means, the archiving interface being arranged to access the storage means so as to identify and archive an item of recorded media content therefrom, wherein the archiving interface is adapted to identify the item of recorded media content based on at least one rule.

In a further preferred embodiment of the invention, the apparatus comprises a fingerprint generator that is adapted to generate a fingerprint for segments of each item of received media content and/or for contiguous or near contiguous groups of segments in each item of received media content.

Preferably, the apparatus further comprises a database for storing the fingerprint of each segment and/or each contiguous or near contiguous group of segments.

In a further preferred embodiment of the invention, the apparatus further comprises a fingerprint monitor for comparing the fingerprint of each segment and/or each contiguous or near contiguous group of segments in each item of received media content against the database to identify segment repeats and/or contiguous or near contiguous groups of segment repeats or parts of contiguous or near contiguous groups of segment repeats.

The invention also provides a computer program, which when run on a programmable apparatus for recording media content at least comprising at least one receiver for receiving media content from a content source; storage means for recording content; and control means, configures the apparatus as the apparatus of said another aspect of the invention.

Further features and advantages of the invention will become apparent from the following description of preferred embodiments of the invention, given by way of example only, which is made with reference to the accompanying drawings.

Brief Description of the Drawings

Figure 1 is a schematic block diagram of a digital video recorder with various content receivers; Figure 2 is a schematic block diagram of an example of digital content receiver of Figure 1; Figure 3 shows functions according to the invention of the apparatus of Figures 1 and 2; Figure 4 shows steps associated with the acquisition and conditioning of metadata, the implementation of negative filtering, and the operation of a conflict manager using information contained in the metadata, the allocation of receivers to acquire and decode the media content and the recordal of acquired media content with the associated metadata carried out by the apparatus of Figure 1; Figure 5 shows steps carried out in a housekeeping operation carried out by the apparatus of Figure 1; and Figure 6 shows steps carried out by a playback scheduling operation carried out by the apparatus of Figure 1.

Description of illustrative embodiments of the Invention Embodiments of the present invention relate to controlling the reception and the selective delivery and recordal of media content including the metadata received with the content. The media content may be broadcast content and/or content received in other ways, e.g. the Internet, which may not be regarded as "broadcast". For convenience the following description refers to broadcast content but it will be appreciated the invention is not limited to content broadcast "over the air" by radio signals. The various components of the apparatus for receiving, delivering and recording broadcast media content and its metadata and the steps involved in controlling the reception, delivery and recordal will be described in detail below, but first, in order to aid understanding of the invention, the main elements of an apparatus for receiving, delivering and recording broadcast media content will be explained with reference to Figures 1 and 2. It should be noted that the terms "watched" and "viewed" used herein are intended to cover visual content (possibly combined with audio content) that has been viewed and also audio only content that has been heard by a user.

Referring to Figure 1, a digital video recorder 1 has one or more content receivers 121, 141, 161, and 181. In this example at least one receiver 121 is a digital terrestrial television (DTT) receiver, another 141 is a satellite receiver, another 161 is a cable interface and another 181 is a network interface. In this example of the invention it is assumed that all receivers 121 to 181 receive MPEG2 transport streams which include digital media content, for example, video, audio, and/or audiovisual content and other digital data relating to the content and referred to herein as metadata. Such content is referred to herein as media content.

The recorder 1 may be for example a computer 1 having, amongst other conventional items, a CPU and associated memory 10, one or more user input devices 122 for example a key board and/or a mouse, a hard drive which may be a hard disk drive (HDD) 112, a display driver 141 coupled to a display device 182, and a controller 161 interfacing with a user's remote control 61. In this example the recorder records MPEG2 compressed content received from a receiver. The recorder has an MPEG decoder 204 for decompressing the content for playback. The recorder also has one or more output interfaces 24 which provide outputs 241 to 24n. The components of the computer interact via one or more busses (only one 131 shown) in a conventional way.

The recorder may be configured to be able to record more than one received media content at the same time.

The content to be recorded may be selected using an Electronic Program Guide (EPG) in a conventional way. Thus the user selects in advance of the supply of the content by the content suppliers, e.g. a broadcaster, items of content to be recorded and the recorder automatically records the selected items in a w ell known manner. As is known some recorders allow more than one item of content to be recorded at the same time.. However, embodiments of the present invention relates to content selected and recorded in the way described below with reference to Figures 3 to 6.

Figure 2 is a schematic block diagram of an example of DTT receiver of Figure 1. The receiver comprises a tuner 201 having an input 210 for receiving a control signal for selecting an RF channel, a demodulator 202 for outputting a demodulated MEPG2 Transport stream and a demultiplexer 203 responsive to a content selection signal 212 to select content from the transport stream. The tuner, demodulator and demultiplexer are well known conventional devices and thus need no further description. A satellite receiver is similar but differs in the form of the tuner 201.

The tuner and the demultiplexer are controlled to select desired content using data derived from an Electronic Program Guide (EPG). The EPG may be derived from data in the MPEG Transport Stream or from any other available source, for example from an organisation which aggregates data relating to content and makes the aggregated data available as an EPG. For example the EPG may be made available to users via a network, for example the Internet. In the case of the EPG derived from the transport stream the receiver has a store 206 which stores EPG data extracted from the transport stream by the demultiplexer 203 and an EPG processor 208 which creates the EPG from the stored metadata. The EPG may be a separate channel in the broadcast band. The store 206 and/or the EPG processor 208 may be implemented by the computer 1.

The EPG processor 208 may be implemented in the computer by software.

The computer 1 processes the EPG data as described herein below to produce the control signals 210 and 212 for controlling the tuner and demultiplexer to select the content to be recorded. The EPG data associated with each item of recorded media content is also recorded in association with the item.

The EPG data comprises data identifying the channel, time of transmission, title, and may include genre, synopsis of content and audio/video attributes for example display format such as widescreen. It may also include other data for example names of artists and/or production date.

Figure 3 schematically shows functions of an apparatus for recording broadcast media content in the form of a digital media recorder 1. Figure 3 shows various modules which may be implemented by hardware, or software, e.g. engines, run on the CPU 110 and other hardware components of the computer of Figure 1, or a combination of hardware and software. The recorder 1 comprises: a plurality of receiving and decoding modules or receivers 2 which may include one or more network interfaces 21 and one or more decoders 22 for decoding content received via the network: a data storage means in the form of a media content store 3 corresponding for example to the hard drive 112 of Figure 1, for storing recorded broadcast media items; databases 4 for organising data stored on the recorder 1 in a structured manner in for example the drive 112 of figure 1; and a repeat management module 5 for identifying and preventing delivery of repeated items of broadcast media content.

There is a control interface for interacting with the user to control the recorder 1. A controller 6 communicates with a user remote control 61, other user controls 63 for example a keyboard or mouse, and a user display 62; the controller 6 may also receive external data advice 64 via for instance the network interface 21, including recommendations for scheduling, externally generated programme schedules, programme reviews, segues or programme descriptors.

In addition, a housekeeping module 7 is provided for managing the broadcast media content stored in the media content store 3 of the recorder 1. A live processing output module 8 can process a live broadcast media content item before it is output from the recorder 1. For example, certain content, such as advertisements, may be removed from the live broadcast media content item before it is output for viewing. A user "live experience" generation output module 9 can generate various user experiences for playback of recorded items of broadcast media content so that the content appears more "live" to the user.

An on-screen user interface 10 allows the user to customise settings and preferences. The user interface 10 also allows the user to manage recordings, playback and housekeeping rules (described in more detail below) stored in the database, either directly or remotely. A zone output module 11 of the recorder 1 is capable of effecting playback of a broadcast media content item in a specific zone of the user's environment. For example, a user may request that different broadcast media content items are played back in each zone, such as a specific room of a user's home. A portable storage output module 12 enables items of broadcast media content to be processed and exported to portable storage media or other device. An off-line manipulation processing module 13 can process the broadcast media content stored in the data storage means 3 to remove or manipulate any unnecessary or undesirable audio and/or video content. For example, the processing carried out by the module 13 may involve processing items of broadcast media content to remove repeated segments, such as advertisements, from the broadcast media content.

A fingerprint generator 103 generates fingerprints to identify media content items or segments of items as will be described below. An asset acquisition, routing control and reprocessing module 101 acts as an interface between the receivers 2 and network interface 21 and decoder(s) 22 and the other components and modules of the recorder. An output management and encoding module 102 acts as an interface between the other module and components of the recorder and the outputs of the recorder for example video and audio outputs and a zone output module 11 and a portable storage output module 12.

Figure 4 shows some modules or engines, and hardware components, of the recorder 1 relating to negative filtering of received media content items as will be described in more detail below. As mentioned above, the recorder 1 has a multiplicity of receivers 2 collectively organised in a receiver pool to receive and selectively deliver all programmes broadcast from sources 14, for example satellite, cable, network (e.g. the Internet), and terrestrial sources, or any other

suitable source.

The user interacts with the recorder 1 to devise a recording schedule for the broadcast media content to be recorded. The recorder has a receiver allocation module 26 which allocates receivers 2 for recording in accordance with that schedule. Taking account of the fact that many items of broadcast media content are available from a number of channels, are repeated and may also be available on internet websites, means (24, 15-19, 28, 29) are provided for analysing transmitted programme information data and/or searching the internet in order to discover alternative transmission times or sources of programmes. Thus, it is possible for the recorder 1 to intelligently allocate reception resources and minimise the number of receivers 2 required at any one time by postponing the reception of certain material that is intended to be broadcast again on the same or another channel, or which will be available from another source, such as the internet.

The receivers 2 enable simultaneous recording and/or playback of as many broadcast channels as the number of receivers 2 in the receiver pool. The receivers 2 of the recorder 1 can record from different broadcast channels. The receivers 2 each receive an instruction from the recorder 1 to receive content from a specific broadcast channel, and in response to the instruction a receiver 2 from the receiver pool will select to receive media content being broadcast on the broadcast channel at that time.

The recorder 1 has means for selectively preventing the delivery of certain broadcast media content in the form of one or more negative filters or firewalls 15, 16, 17 and 18. Figure 4 shows a plurality of firewalls.

For example, the firewall 15 allows a user to prevent reception of all channels which are known not to contain programmes of personal interest to the user, such as shopping channels. Furthermore, the firewall 15 can be used to ensure that any channels which carry repeated material such as "+ 1 Hour" S channels are not received and recorded save for any such material that is required for the resolution of conflicts (described in more detail below). The user can also prevent the delivery and recordal of all programmes carried on the "allowed" channels according to their genre, style or format by means of firewall 16; for example, sports programmes or quiz shows can be prevented from being delivered. Additionally, the user can block specific disliked programme content, for example, programmes about Christmas. The user can choose to prevent delivery and recordal of specific disliked programme titles based on exact titles, parts of titles or programme descriptors, using the firewall 17. For example, a text string indicating a single word, part of a single word or multiple words, such as "I'm a Celebrity -The Reality", could be used to prevent delivery of all items of broadcast media content with that text string in their title; this may include items of broadcast media content with the specific title I'm a Celebrity -The Reality" and also items of broadcast media content that are related, such as "I'm a Celebrity -The Reality: Behind the Scenes". A text string of this nature may also appear in a descriptor for an item of broadcast media content instead of in the title, and the user could select to prevent delivery of items without "I'm a Celebrity -The Reality" in the title but which are connected with that subject matter, for example an item of broadcast media content called "Gentle Ben" which is described as a "reality programme featuring a former I'm a Celebrity -The Reality contestant". Similarly, programmes featuring a particular artist can be prevented from delivery and recordal using the firewall 17. The delivery and recordal of any content that has previously been received and recorded and/or viewed by the user can be prevented by the firewall 18.

The user may choose to prevent delivery and recordal of media content items having a production date falling within a date range chosen by the user.

The recorder 1 may receive media content items from sources coupled to the recorder by a network, e.g. the Internet, and/or cable. The received content may be video on demand content. The content may be streamed. Such content is handled in the same way as broadcast content provided it is associated with suitable metadata, for example an EPG. If there is no EPG metadata associated with the content, the recorder is configured to use other sources of information for example email and RSS feeds to obtain metadata. The recorder may be configured to synthesise metadata from other sources of information relating to the media content items.

The recorder 1 maintains a log 25 of unique programme descriptors, for instance programme-related descriptive metadata, for every item of broadcast media content which is delivered and recorded and monitors content which the user watches or auditions. A user history log file listing content that has been viewed by the user can be checked against the future recording schedule for the recorder 1 in order to prevent repeat recording of items of broadcast media content that have already been viewed, unless a repeat recording of a certain item of broadcast media content has been specifically requested by the user.

Where a plurality of users has access to the recorder 1, an individual user history log file can be provided for each user.

All firewall instructions can be pre-programmed into the recorder 1 following or during manufacture or selectively programmed by the user when the recorder 1 is first acquired. The initial set-up and later updating of the firewall instructions can be carried out using an on-screen firewall customisation interface within the on-screen user interface 10, possibly in the form of a semi-transparent overlay screen that can be used whilst the user is viewing an item of live or recorded broadcast media content. In order to facilitate programming of the firewalls 15, 16, 17 and 18, a number of icons or pictograms may be provided in the on-screen user interface 10 to represent the different genre, styles and formats of programme; for example, a picture of a football may represent sporting programmes. The recorder 1 may also have some preloaded profiles, which can be used as part of the set-up process to reduce the initial setup time of the recorder 1. For example, it may be assumed that the user is not interested in receiving and recording any foreign language channels. It will be appreciated that the user will be able to override any preloaded profiles. The recorder 1 is also capable of monitoring the user's viewing behaviour to automatically customise firewall settings on the user's behalf based on that behaviour. Alternatively, or in addition, the firewall instructions could be updated via an external source.

The firewalls 15, 16, 17 and 18 utilise programme broadcast information data, for example in the form of an Electronic Programme Guide (EPG), to selectively prevent the delivery and recordal of certain broadcast media content.

Means are provided for acquiring and decoding a broadcasting schedule for this purpose. The obtained programme information data may comprise programme-related descriptive metadata or a unique content identifier, that may be acquired via Content Reference Identifiers (CRIDs), for example, or any equivalent.

EPG data may be provided by a source independent of the broadcast content, for example a source accessible via the Internet; or may be provided by metadata associated with the content, for example in a digital transport stream; or may be in a separate broadcast channel. EPG data may be transmitted in advance of the content it relates to. For example it may be transmitted 7 or more days in advance.

Rather than preventing the delivery and recordal of entire programmes, the firewalls 15, 16 and/or 17 could alternatively prevent delivery and recordal of certain parts of the broadcast media content. Programme-related descriptive metadata could be utilised to identify the parts of the broadcast media content to be delivered and recorded. For example, in the case of the firewall 16, the weather forecast could be blocked from news programmes without blocking the rest of the programmes. The prevention of the delivery and recordal of parts of the broadcast media content would be based on a predefined criterion, which could be user-defined.

By eliminating the reception of so many channels and specific programmes, broadcast output, which may originate from Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT), cable television, satellite television, Internet Protocol Television (IPTV), another broadcast source or on-demand source, audio visual media source or a combination thereof, may be reduced to a quantity which can be recorded continuously onto the media content store 3, which may be in the form of a hard disc or solid state memory, onto optical rewritable media or delivered onto or accessed from a remote store or shared storage facility so that a period of several weeks or more of programming can be stored by a user at any one time. The recorder 1 is configured to automatically record, without any action by the user to positively select content for recordal, all content which is not blocked by the firewalls.

The recording schedule of the recorder 1 can be optimised "on the fly" to accommodate ad-hoc recording requests by the user or to allow delivery of a broadcast media content item requested by a user for live viewing.

The user is encouraged to allow the delivery and recordal of broadcast media content from a principal source of each of several specific topical genres, such as news, weather, and financial market information. If topical programme items are selected for delivery and recording by the user, editing means in the recorder 1 may be programmed to automatically overwrite the previously stored editions with the latest version of each of these items so that the latest complete edition of these programmes is always available to the user for playback. The user could then be presented with a single condensed item or digest of recorded topical broadcast media content from multiple items of delivered and recorded topical broadcast media content.

The recorder 1 also comprises a conflict manager 19 for identifying any recording conflicts that cannot be accommodated by the plurality of receivers 2, i.e. the conflict manager 19 is intended to identify any scenarios in which the number of allowed items of broadcast media content at any one time is greater than the number of receivers 2 in the receiver pool. The conflict manager 19 is further adapted to eliminate any identified recording conflicts. The conflict manager 19 scans sources of programme broadcast information data to identify any repeat broadcast times for the conflicting items of media content on the same or a different broadcast channel, in order to resolve the conflict. The conflict may also be resolved by checking possible availability of the overlapping broadcast media content items from an alternate source, for example, an internet archive server, an on-demand broadcast server, archived content providers, archived media content stores or any other suitable source. If the conflict manager 19 succeeds in finding an alternative broadcasting time or source for the conflicting items of media content, the recording schedule is revised accordingly. However, if the conflict manager 19 is unable to resolve the conflict, the conflict manager 19 prevents delivery of one or more of the items of broadcast media content based on at least one predefined rule. The rule could be defined by the user, or based on user feedback relating to one of the items of overlapping broadcast media content. For example, if one of the overlapping broadcast media content items is part of a series that a user watches regularly, then that overlapping broadcast media content item may be prioritised over another item of broadcast media content in the recording schedule.

Specific items of broadcast media content selected by the user may alternatively be prioritised in the recording schedule. The conflict manager 19 may further take into account constraints such as reception quality and recording space available on the storage means 3 when resolving conflicts. The conflict manager 19 may consider the user profile and the user's viewing patterns when resolving conflicts. In addition, the conflict manager 19 may additionally optimise the recording schedule to accommodate ad-hoc recording requests by the user or live media content viewing requested by the user.

The conflict manager 19 may comprise means for finding and recording, in the media content store 3, a link to an alternate source of content. The recordal of the link is done instead of recording the content. The means for finding the content may be a network interface and program for accessing a search engine via for example the Internet. A link may be recorded: whenever a conflict is detected; if the conflict manager is unable to find an alternate time for reception of content; or if the conflict manager is unable to find an alternate broadcast source for content. The link may be a URL or a CRID (Content Reference I.D.).

The recorder 1 may comprise means for acquiring user feedback relating to items of broadcast media content. The means for acquiring user feedback can acquire feedback related to a recorded item of broadcast media content and/or to a broadcast media content item that is scheduled to be broadcast in future. If the broadcast media content item is part of a series then the user feedback relating to an item of the series may be associated with other items of the series. The means for acquiring user feedback may be presented to the user as a customisable overlay screen while the user is viewing an item of live or recorded broadcast media content or in any other suitable way. The conflict manager 19 may take the user feedback into account when resolving a conflict.

For example, if negative feedback is received from the user in relation to a particular item of broadcast media content, that item may be removed from the recording schedule to resolve a recording conflict. The user feedback relating to an item of broadcast media content may also be utilised by the housekeeping module 7 (discussed in more detail below) when identifying items for removal from the storage means 3. Similarly, an archiving interface of the recorder 1 (discussed in more detail below) may also utilise the user feedback relating to an item of broadcast media content for identifying broadcast media items for archiving and backup.

The recorder 1 may further or alternatively comprise means for acquiring third party feedback relating to items of broadcast media content. The third party feedback may be acquired from a central repository 191 (Figure 1) containing feedback from a plurality of third parties, from an internet 193 feedback source, or any other suitable source. The means for acquiring third party feedback may additionally or alternatively acquire third party feedback from other recorders 192. The direct acquisition of feedback from other recorders may be limited to a small number of recorders based on predefined rules. The rules may be based on available bandwidth and/or community associations of the user, for example. Third party feedback may be taken into account by the conflict manager 19 when resolving recording conflicts. The third party feedback may also be considered by the housekeeping module 7 for identifying items of broadcast media content for removal from the storage means 3. The archiving interface may also utilise the third party feedback for identifying items of broadcast media content for archiving and backup.

Figure 5 shows a flow diagram of the steps associated with a housekeeping operation of the recorder 1. The housekeeping operation allows efficient management of the data storage space available to the user in the media content store 3 by removing already viewed items of broadcast media content (305. 302, 318) and items of broadcast media content that are not of interest to the user of the recorder 1. The housekeeping module 7 comprises a removal module which, in operative association with the media content store 3, is able to identify an item for removal and remove the item of broadcast media content from the media content store 3. The removal module identifies items to be removed from the media content store 3 based on at least one predefined criterion. The predefined criterion could be preset on the recorder 1 during or following manufacture or could be user-defined. It could also be updated from an external source. For example, the housekeeping module 7 may remove items of broadcast media content that have already been viewed (305) by the user. The housekeeping module 7 can also check (306) whether a broadcast media content item is a part of a series of broadcast media content items, and only delete (317) an item of broadcast media content that is a part of a series if (316) the user has watched subsequent parts of the series. An item of broadcast media content could also be removed if subsequent items from a series of broadcast media items of which the item in question also forms a part are also stored in the media content store 3 and have superseded the item in question. The user may be given the option of retaining all episodes of serials, series and soap operas after the last viewed item of broadcast media content belonging to that serial, series or soap opera or retaining only the last transmitted or most up to date episode.

In the case of topical items of broadcast media content, such as news or weather reports, the housekeeping module 7 can ensure (307, 304) that only the most recent item is retained. Only parts of items of broadcast media content that have not been viewed before may be retained by the housekeeping module 7.

The housekeeping module 7 may also remove (310) items of recorded broadcast media content that were recorded a predetermined period of time ago (308) and have not been watched (309) by the user, for example, if a programme was recorded 7 months ago and the recorder 1 is programmed to delete any programmes that have been stored for more than 6 months.

An automatic deletion process can be set up in the housekeeping module 7 on a "first in, first out" basis subject to preset rules that are dependent on programme genre, style and format. Some of these rules may be user-adjustable. In addition or alternatively, the housekeeping module 7 may calculate a maximum length of time (308) for which any programme can be stored subject to overall memory capacity, the rate of accumulation of new programmes, repeat delete efficacy and user viewing habits, and mark the programmes for timely deletion accordingly. Statistical information gained from the delete function of the removal interface can be analysed and presented (313) to the user, for instance, as a prompt to prevent the reception and recordal of a certain genre or title of broadcast media content which is regularly recorded but never viewed and/or by sending (311, 312) new instructions to the media firewalls 15, 16, 17 and 18. An item of recorded broadcast media content can be excluded from removal based on a specific instruction. The specific instruction for exclusion of an item of recorded broadcast media content may originate from the user, for example. In addition, the user can manually delete certain items from the media content store 3 of the recorder 1.

The housekeeping module may comprise means for finding and recording a link to a source of content for replacing deleted content with the link. These means may be the same means as used by the conflict manager for finding and recording a link. The recordal of the link allows content to be deleted from the storage without completely losing any record of the deleted content whilst freeing up space in the media content store 3. The means for finding the content may be a network interface and program for accessing a search engine via for example the Internet. The link may be a URL or a CRID (Content Reference I.D).

The recorder 1 further comprises an archiving module which, in operative association with the media content store 3 is able to identify items for archiving and archive the identified items. The archiving module identifies items for archiving based on at least one predefined rule, which could be user-defined (301) . For example, favourite movies of the user may be archived (303), or items of broadcast media content that the user has viewed more than a defined number of times may be archived automatically. The archiving module may archive any identified broadcast media content items identified for archiving in an archive on the media content store 3. However, the items to be archived (303) could also be stored in an external archive or remote storage facility, such as an external hard drive, a portable storage device, a computer hard drive or any other suitable storage means. In addition, the user can manually archive certain items from the media content store 3 of the recorder 1.

The recorder 1 further comprises a repeat management module 5 which monitors the broadcast media content items received by the receivers 2 in the receiver pool to ensure that each media content item is not a repeat broadcast of an already received media content item. The firewall 18 may utilise feedback from the repeat management module 5 to prevent future delivery and recordal of previously received items of broadcast media content. The repeat management module 5 utilises programme broadcast information data, for example, from an EPG, or content-related metadata information, for instance acquired via CRIDs, to identify repeat transmission of previously received items of broadcast media content. In addition, the repeat management module 5 may work together with the housekeeping module 7 in identifying (314, 315) multiple copies of a particular broadcast media content item in the media content store 3. Typically the media content items discovered as repeats by the above method are complete programmes or complete sections of programmes which have been separately identified by the broadcaster or transmission agency.

The apparatus can further autonomously identify repeats in broadcast media content items which can be as short as a few seconds and for which adequate metadata does not exist. This is achieved by self-correlation of recording using an audio fingerprinting method as described in more detail below or by a similar fingerprinting method.

A fingerprint is data derived by summarising the perceptual content of an audio passage.

A fingerprint can refer to either the whole of the identified repeated audio clip or to the individual segments of which it is comprised.

The audio content associated with the broadcast media content item is divided into small segments and a unique fingerprint is generated for each segment. When a match is detected by comparing the fingerprint of one segment with fingerprints stored in a fingerprint database 4a the adjacent segment fingerprints are compared similarly until a contiguous or near contiguous group of matched fingerprints is identified. This contiguous group of matched fingerprints defines a passage of audio content referred to as an audio clip and is stored in the fingerprint database 4a as the fingerprint of that audio clip.

When the received media content item includes video content with associated audio content it is still preferable to use a fingerprint derived from the audio content than one produced from the video content because an audio fingerprint occupies less storage space and can be processed more rapidly than an equivalent video fingerprint. In addition, broadcasters frequently overlay fresh audio content with previously seen video content; for example news items often use stock images and footage as a backdrop to new dialogue. Although the video content may not be new, the user will still want to hear the latest audio content.

The repeated audio clips that are identified by fingerprint analysis will typically be advertisements, forthcoming programme trailers, channel branding idents, weather reports and news items.

The identification of a repeated audio clip in a live broadcast stream can be used to permit the reallocation of the relevant receiver 2 so that it can receive from another source of broadcast media content items for the duration of the repeated audio clip. If the repeated audio clip is identified in a live stream that is being delivered to the user, the identification of the repeated audio clip may be used to switch delivery to another source or to deliver other items of broadcast media content from the media content store 3 or to attenuate or mute the audio content or blank or otherwise condition the video content during delivery of the media content for the duration of the repeated audio content by means of a manipulator. The live stream can also be buffered by a sufficient amount to permit removal of repeated audio clips and any associated video content without interrupting the delivery of the broadcast media content item to the user. Typically on commercial broadcast channels the delay in delivery would need to be approximately one third of the length of the item of broadcast media content in order to allow for removal of all repeated items.

The identification of repeated audio clips and any associated video content during recording can be used to interrupt the recording and thus save space in the media content store 3. The repeated audio clip identification process can also run (314) as a background task to identify repeated audio clips existing in the media content store 3 and mark them (315) for deletion or other purposes. The continuous acquisition of fingerprints will allow identification of repeated audio clips that may not have been apparent at the time of recordal of an item of broadcast media content. Similarly, by reference to the fingerprint database 4a and the user history log, audio clips, which have previously been delivered to the user can be deleted, whether the original still exists in the media content store 3 or not, subject to user preference.

During playback, repeated audio clips and any associated video content, which have not already been removed or otherwise treated as described above, can be detected within seconds and similarly removed or treated such that the playback can appear seamless and without interruption.

Fingerprints may also be imported to the fingerprint database 4a from an external source, such as the Internet, or may be imported or exported by means of sharing with other users.

The minimum and maximum lengths of audio clips to be detected can be set by the user and will determine the nature of media content items that are identified as repeats. For example, setting the minimum length to a few seconds will permit the detection ofjingles and channel idents whereas setting the maximum length to 30 minutes would permit the identification of complete items of broadcast media content; however, the latter would be more efficiently handled by utilising the programme metadata as described above. Therefore, a maximum audio clip length of say 10 minutes may be preferable.

The repeated audio clips such as idents, jingles, news items and trailers are generally exclusive to a particular broadcasting channel. Therefore, searching efficiency can be increased by referencing each fingerprint to the broadcasting channel from which the audio clip was received and first only searching broadcast media content items received from the relevant channel, either live or within the media content store 3 and then subsequently extending the search to include content from other channels.

The occurrence of specific repeated audio clips is also related to the date and time of transmission to a certain extent. There is a likelihood of the same repeated broadcast media content item recurring at the same time daily or weekly. Thus, to further speed up detection the fingerprint data can include data relating to the time, date and frequency of transmission of the broadcast media content item and/or the broadcast channel, programme type, programme or other content related data or combination thereof, which can be used to prioritise searching. The date coupled with the frequency of occurrence data, including for example the repeat pattern, can be used to regulate a decay time when the audio clip has ceased to be transmitted and the fingerprint can be deleted from the fingerprint database. The decay time may also or alternatively be based on a timeframe within which the fingerprint monitor identifies segment repeats and/or contiguous or near contiguous groups of segment repeats or parts of contiguous or near contiguous groups of segment repeats. The decay time may be user defined. Since a user may only rarely watch broadcast media content items from a specific broadcasting channel or other source, insufficient fingerprints may be acquired from that channel for efficient identification and removal of repeated audio clips. In order to improve the efficacy of the repeated audio clip identification process, the receivers 2 can monitor these channels by bypassing the relevant firewall even when their content is not intended to be delivered to the user.

Some repeated audio clips, for instance advertisements, are transmitted by several broadcasting channels and fingerprints for these audio clips can be used for searching across the relevant broadcasting channels in order to reduce the total fingerprint storage requirement and speed up detection.

To identify repeats in a recorded or live media content item, all relevant short segments in the fingerprint database 4a are correlated across the whole of the media content item.

A short segment of the fingerprint of an audio clip is used for the first stage of the matching process. When a match is found with reasonable certainty, then the process attempts to find adjacent matches by taking the next adjoining segments occurring both earlier and later than the first match, in a continuing process until the largest contiguous group of segments is identified.

This process allows for errors until probability dictates that the longest audio clip has been discovered. This process is likely to be asymmetrical around the first match.

It is possible to improve the speed of finding new matches by first removing the content for all pre-known matches. This can be done locally within the recorder 1 or by an external means that could be local to the user or remotely accessible. The remotely accessible means could be located at one or a number of central locations on dedicated systems. These dedicated systems will distribute fingerprints of discovered repeated audio clips from one or more broadcast channels to local systems. The local systems in the recorder 1 will then use the fingerprints to identify matches within the media content store 3 or during live reception locally. Alternatively, the dedicated central systems can publish "Edit Deletion Lists" for each broadcasting channel for each day.

Therefore, the local system does not need to identify matches for the local content and can instead choose to remove, adjust or skip content based on absolute time stamps. In addition, the dedicated central systems can edit the broadcast media content items and broadcast delayed repetition-free items of broadcast media content. The repetition-free items of broadcast media content can also be stored on a central server from which the recorder 1 can record the media content.

Although the system analyses short clips solely on the basis of the audio element of those clips, when clips are removed or adjusted both the video and audio elements of the clips are affected in order to maintain synchronisation between picture and sound.

Typical linear digital audio content is sampled at 44100 or 48000 samples a second. If raw audio content samples were used for analysis of repeats, the comparison process would be too slow. Therefore, consecutive digital audio samples are processed and combined instead to create a unique fingerprint of the audio content. The trade-off between comparison accuracy and comparison speed is dependent on the number of consecutive audio samples combined and the processing used to create the fingerprint.

A similar fingerprinting process is applied to short audio clips being sought within a broadcast media content item that is processed into segments.

The processing of the broadcast media content item into segments allows the analysis process to be used for live-buffered audio streams and also permits converted fingerprint files to be saved for faster use on subsequent comparisons.

The correlation index is a measure of the likelihood of a match at a given point in the broadcast media content item. An array of indices is produced for the whole of the broadcast media content item using standard correlation techniques. It is quicker to generate this in the frequency domain than in the time domain so a Fast Fourier Transform is used to convert the time domain data into the frequency domain and the correlation is calculated there.

An image of a short audio clip is generated the first time it is encountered and is converted to the frequency domain. This fingerprint is then stored so that subsequent searches can omit the image generation stage.

Each fingerprint is correlated with itself to give the dynamic correlation threshold value for that short audio clip if it were compared under perfect conditions. To discover another identical broadcast media content item (for example, with no audio amplitude or frequency adjustments) is not usual.

Therefore, the dynamically found perfect condition' is reduced to allow matches to be discovered under real-world conditions. These values are stored with each fingerprint.

Incomplete repeated audio clips created at the start and finish of reception and recording, or due to transmission errors, as well as audio clips which are only slightly at variance due, for instance to different channel branding, may also be discovered and removed, subject to a match probability value.

Where the correlation index is greater than the dynamic threshold, a match is deemed to have occurred. Details of at what time within the broadcast media content the match occurred and its duration are stored in a list. The list of matches is used to remove or adjust or skip the relevant audio and video content from the broadcast media content item.

The user may set preferences to manage rules about how much and/or which content is removed or otherwise treated from broadcast media content. Such preferences might include: * If near-contiguous matches are identified, the user may define the period of time between the matches for which the interval portion may also be removed or adjusted similarly; * Maximum length of short clip that may be removed or adjusted; * Minimum length of short clip that may be removed or adjusted; * Minimum repeated short clip recurrence time such that if a repeat of the short clip is found within this time it is marked not to be deleted; and * Decide if repeated short clips are removed in their entirety or are adjusted.

The user preferences and rules may be influenced by any of the above as well as the broadcast channel, programme type, programme or other content related data or other combination thereof Figure 6 shows the steps carried out in a playback operation of the recorder 1. The process described above enables the recorder 1 to receive, store and process items of broadcast media content to ensure that the media content store 3 of the recorder 1 always contains several weeks of selected media available for delivery to the user which has been stripped of repeats and non-programme items. These recorded items can be selected for playback on an ad-hoc basis or according to pre-programmed or user generated schedules which may match optimum programming with the time of day and date, referred to as day parting', or may be customised in other ways. Whilst all programming is pre-recorded, live topical information can additionally be obtained from internet feeds, Transmitted metadata or live topical information can also be overlaid on the programmes or inserted between programmes, if required. Similarly, highly topical programmes can be watched only after a very short buffering period that is provided to allow removal of repeats and non-programme segments. The user can choose to play back recorded items of broadcast media content from their starting points.

The user interface 10 may present the user with an on-screen timetable with variable timeslots for viewing items of broadcast media content. The user can select 43 a daily, weekly or annual timetable. Genre, style and format or individual programme names or parts of programmes can be entered into each timeslot using a remote control 61 or other user input device 63. Timeslots can also be used to play back items of recorded broadcast media content selected by a random generator programme or can be marked "sleep", which will cause the recorder 1 to shut down for that period of time. Since programmes can vary in length, the timeslots are considered soft' and the schedule can run late or early depending on programming. Alternatively, if required, the time transitions can be set to hard', occasioning set time programme changes regardless of programme length. Professionally written schedules or timetables can also be received from external devices and communication ports, e.g. network interface 181, built into the recorder 1 and stored. The desired timetable may be marked as "current" and that timetable will govern the playback function until a different timetable is chosen. Playback of a timetable can be paused by the user at any time.

An auto-updating real time clock 41 in the recorder 1 can trigger the playback to commence according to the selected timetable. This function can also be used as a wake up alarm.

The user can interrupt the programming sequenced by the timetable using a remote control or other user input device and can alternatively choose playback of individual items from a library 42 of items of broadcast media content comprising a list of all items of recorded media content, by genre, style, format or any other supported classification that can be derived from the transmitted programme metadata. This function allows the user to browse the library in a simulation of live channel surfing. When browsing, the items in the library of items of broadcast media content can be set to start from the beginning or from the last viewed point. In a preferred embodiment, the library of broadcast media content items is maintained in the media content store 3. The user can also set options provided in the on-screen menus to watch only output from a specific channel or to view output from a guest channel which is not normally allowed to be delivered and recorded according to the settings of the media firewalls 15, 16, 17 and 18. The filtering functions of the recorder 1 can also be bypassed if the user wishes to watch live transmissions or internet streaming feeds.

During playback, banner headlines such as newsflashes or financial market data sourced (181, 47, 2) from the broadcast transmission stream 2 or from the internet (181) can overlay 46 the playback of a recorded item of broadcast media content in real time, in order to provide awareness of live reports of breaking news and current affairs.

A synthesizer 45, such as a voice synthesizer, may be used to provide programme information derived from EPG metadata and this spoken information can be used to announce items of broadcast media content and provide synthesised live segues in the play out for the purpose of simulating a natural-sounding scheduled evening's entertainment, or at any other time that the information is required. Broadcasting segues can also be obtained from an external source, e.g. via the network interface 181, and incorporated 46 into the playback of items of recorded broadcast media content. Other menu items can also be vocalised in order to improve usability on small screens, for example, when the recorder 1 is being operated at a distance from the screen or by visually impaired users.

Scheduled insertion of content from other sources The insertion of live content into, or overlay on, the played-back content may be controlled by the playback schedule produced by the user or produced by the external source. The timing of insertion of synthesised content may be controlled by the playback schedule. (It is considered that this idea is novel in itself.) Insertionloverlay provided by and/or controlled by an external source The recorder may have a network interface 181 via which an external source may provide a generic playback schedule. The schedule is stored in the recorder in the hard drive 112 for example. Content recorded in the recorder is played back in accordance with the schedule. The schedule may include times at which content provided by the external source or some other external source is presented to the user. The control of the insertion or overlay of content into or on the played back content may be done by the external source via the network interface 181. For example, an external source may produce news content. The news content may be sent to the user for automatic combining with the played back content according to a generic schedule provided by the external source.

For that purpose the generic schedule may include instructions which are sent by the recorder via the network interface to the external source to access the news content at the time(s) scheduled for news.

The external source may even remotely control the overlay or insertion of content into the played back content independently of a schedule. For example if a news event occurs which the external source judges to be so important as to interrupt the schedule playback, the external source sends a control signal, for example an instruction, to the recorder via the network and interface 181,. The control signal or instruction is implemented by the CPU 110 to interrupt playback and insert the content relating to the news event into the schedule or to overlay the news event content onto the played-back content.

(It is considered that these ideas are novel in themselves.) Playback Mixer A playback mixer 46, which may be implemented by software in the CPU 110, overlays live content on recorded content played back from the hard drive 12. The mixer 46 may combine the synthesised content with the played back recorded content. For example it may insert a segue sequentially into a data stream of played back content; it may superimpose audio content on played back content.

At any time prior to viewing a particular item of broadcast media content reviews, recommendations and other feedback can be retrieved from the Internet (181, 47) or another transmission source and used to augment or replace the original programme information that was available at the time of transmission.

Information about the segments of items of broadcast media content which have been removed by the fingerprint monitor may be made available to the user for review and repeated segments can be marked by the user for viewing, which may be useful in the case of programme trailers.

The recorder 1 further comprises means for monitoring the items of recorded broadcast media content that have been viewed by the user. The means for monitoring the recorded broadcast media content may in addition generate a user profile which is based on a user's viewing pattern of the items of recorded broadcast media content. The user profile may additionally store user customisation settings, firewall instructions, schedules, viewing history logs and repeat fingerprints. Several user profiles can be stored by the recorder 1 to cater for several users in a single household and playback can be tailored to a particular user in the household that is using an output zone of the recorder 1 at a particular time. It will be appreciated that where certain broadcast media content has been instructed to be deleted on the basis of one user profile, it may be retained on the recorder 1 if it is still required for viewing by another user whose profile is stored. Certain user profiles can optionally be password-protected to facilitate, for example, the creation of child suitable profiles and offer improved parental control.

The recorder 1 can update a user profile based on the user's viewing history and their viewing patterns for the recorded broadcast media content. The user profile could further be utilised to update firewalls 15, 16, 17 and 18 based on the user's viewing patterns.

It is also possible to have more than one profiled user accessing the recorder 1 at the same time, thus allowing simultaneous playback of different items of broadcast media content or timetables to different zones or rooms in a household, or to provide split screen operation of one television.

A primary benefit of the recorder 1 is that user input is kept to a minimum. In view of this, the user input device 61, such as an infra-red or wireless remote control, need only be of simple construction. For example, the design of the remote control can be based on a computer mouse and/or on an MP3 player such as an iPod�. Menu selection and volume can be controlled by the up/down movement of a scroll wheel or a vertical touch strip and video transport functions (for example, "forward", "rewind", "play", "pause") can be controlled by a horizontal scroll wheel or touch strip working in a similar manner to the controls of video editing equipment.

Complete schedules and individual items of broadcast media content can additionally be marked for transfer to an external storage device or mobile device such as a mobile phone, so that the recordings will automatically transfer to the device in question when it is connected, wirelessly or directly, to the recorder 1. If required, transcoding to suit the particular device can also be performed.

A household may have a combination of a smart recorder and a plurality of "dumb" receiving and output processing terminals. The smart recorder 1 can effect recording and processing of the broadcast media content items and the dumb terminals can request a particular broadcast media content item from the storage means 3 of the smart recorder 1. The dumb terminals would effect output processing of the received item of broadcast media content from the smart recorder 1. The combination of the smart recorder 1 and dumb terminal would enable centralised processing of the delivered items of broadcast media content. The dumb terminal may comprise means for acquiring items of broadcast media content from a smart recorder and playback means for outputting the acquired items of broadcast media content.

The above embodiments are to be understood as illustrative examples of the invention. Further embodiments of the invention are envisaged. For example, although channels carrying media content are described as broadcast channels, it will be appreciated that any other suitable media content distributors could be used for delivering media content.

Whilst recorder 1 has been described as receiving broadcast media content, it will be appreciated that the media content can also be received from non-broadcast channels such as from a video camera, a personal music player, or other device.

Although the databases 4 have been described as a structured data management means, it will be appreciated that the structured management of data could be achieved via other suitable and possibly simpler means including comma separated value files or text files.

Whilst fingerprint analysis has been described as a means for segment repeat and delete management, it will be appreciated that segment repeat and delete management could be carried out via hash value comparisons and digital watermarking, or any other type of detection technique, or by using detailed associated data which fully describes the segments and broadcast media content items and is provided by the broadcast channel or any other source. In the case of watermarking, data identifying segments may be encoded into the segments and detected for deletion of the segments.

Although one firewall has been described for programme style, genre and format, another for programme titles, text strings and featuring artists, another for channels and another for repeated content, it will be appreciated that one single firewall could be provided to cover all of these options. It will also be appreciated that additional criteria could be applied to the firewalls for content filtering purposes.

Although the firewalls have been described as blocking the broadcast media content items from reaching the recorder, it will be appreciated that some or all of the firewall functions may be provided after some or all of the broadcast media content items have been recorded.

It will be appreciated that the plurality of receivers 2 described above could be replaced by a single receiver. For example, the single receiver could be a sophisticated receiver that is capable of receiving content from more than one broadcasting channel.

The invention may be implemented by one or more computer programs run on a suitable data processing system having at least one content receiver. The computer program or programs may be carried on a carrier. The carrier may be a signal, a communication channel, or a computer readable medium. The computer readable medium may be a tape, disc, computer memory or electronic store. The disc may be a magnetic, optical or magneto optic disc amongst other examples. The computer memory may be a hard disk, RAM, or ROM. The electronic store may be volatile or non-volatile, for example a Flash memory amongst other examples.

It is to be understood that any feature described in relation to any one embodiment may be used alone, or in combination with other features described, and may also be used in combination with one or more features of any other of the embodiments, or any combination of any other of the embodiments.

Furthermore, equivalents and modifications not described above may also be employed without departing from the scope of the invention, which is defined in the accompanying claims.

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GB0920174D0 (en) 2009-12-30
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WO2010076268A1 (en) 2010-07-08
GB2466692B (en) 2014-06-18
WO2010076266A3 (en) 2010-10-14
WO2010076267A1 (en) 2010-07-08
GB0823685D0 (en) 2009-02-04
GB0920185D0 (en) 2010-01-06
GB2466693A (en) 2010-07-07
GB2466694A (en) 2010-07-07

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