Schedules Direct Frequently Asked Questions

This is a work in progress. Expect it to grow quickly over the next few days.

How do I use Schedules Direct with approved software package X?

We only approve an application to make sure it is non-commerical. We don't know how to configure most applications and are not in a position to do application support.

We recommend you follow whatever procedures your application has in place for support. If that doesn't work, you can try our Forums and another member may know the answer.

What do I do if my listings are incorrect?

Because we are now paying customers of DataDirect, we have account representatives that will deal with these issues. If your listings are incorrect, please let us know (lineup support) so that we can get them involved.

Why don't you use BitTorrent to distribute the listings data?

An analysis of the typical size of the data sent to members shows that BitTorrent or some other P2P mechanism would not be a good fit for distributing program listings. In the United States, there are thousands of lineups. Schedules Direct is not bandwidth limited, so P2P really doesn't make sense in this application.

Why didn't you just get guide data from Tivo / Replay / Gemstar?

We approached a number of the existing data providers when this project was initially started. For various reasons, none of them were able to do what was needed, either because they weren't interested, or were not contractually able to resell the data, or could only provide information such as the title and time, or did not cover all of the United States and Canada.

What about alternatives to licensing data?

Screen-scrape from TitanTV / Yahoo / Zap2It / TVGuide / TV Station website.

You're probably going to be violating the Terms of Service for the website that you're scraping. Additionally, what's easy for a single person to do quickly becomes noticed if 5000 others begin to scrape a web page every day. But, you're welcome to create a competing data source: The MythTV and XMLTV projects have both said that they would accept any program information provider as long as it was legal and wasn't violating terms of service.

Use EIT.

In the USA, EIT data is supposed to contain at least 12 hours of accurate data for the digital stations. Only a few broadcasters provide anything more than that, and some broadcasters don't even provide the legally required EIT data.

Use VBI.

Most of the scheduling information that's in VBI is encrypted and in order to decrypt it you would need to purchase a license from Gemstar.

You're a non-profit. Is any of this tax deductible?

Not as a charitable donation. Before we can accept anything considered to be a charitable donation in the USA, we must apply for and receive 501(c)(3) status from the federal government. This is a long and arduous process which begins with us operating as a research and educational organization with respect to Open Source Software. This does not mean we will successfully obtain 501(c)(3) status, nor does our mission mean we will prevent users of non-commercial "freeware" software from using our member services. We may get 501(c)(3) status later, but that's several months in the future.

It is also highly unlikely that the membership fees themselves (which are called "program fees" for tax purposes) will ever be tax deductible, although if we are able to obtain 501(c)(3) status, we will certainly offer ways for people to make tax deductible donations.

If we fail to receive 501(c)(3) status, we will hopefully continue to be able to operate as a 501(c)(4), which is also a non-profit designation allowed to accept donations. However, donations to 501(c)(4) organizations are not tax deductible.

Can I send more than $25?

Yes, however at this time we do not have have the ability to accept small donations. If you want to make a donation of $1,000 or more, please contact one of the board members and tell them you wish to make a donation to Schedules Direct. Donations to Schedules Direct are not tax deductible as a charitable donation. We can't accept donations via PayPal until approved by them as a non-profit, which is in the works. Also, please remember that Schedules Direct is not a MythTV / GB-PVR / XMLTV project, so your money will not be used to directly support a particular developer.

Do I need to upgrade my software to use Schedules Direct?

In short, yes. You can make a small change to the URL to allow fetching the raw data, but one key datafield has changed size and new processing is needed for repeat/new episode flags.

I was using multiple accounts with Zap2It Labs. What now?

Like Z2L, Schedules Direct supports 4 lineups per account. Some folks used multiple Z2L accounts with MythTV because they needed a single Z2L lineup to feed multiple MythTV video sources with different channel lists.

MythTV now support channel filtering on MythTV video sources so this is no longer needed. For more info, click here

What is a "geographic region"?

Generally you should only need to use your own postal/zip code to receive listings, but we do recognize that sometimes a channel which you receive over-the-air in an antenna setup is not listed under your postal code or your cable listings are more accurately reflected by another postal code in your cable provider's service area. We make some allowances for this in our fraud detection, but we would like you to inform us of any inaccuracies in the data and we do need you to update your account information when you move in a timely manner to avoid interruption of service.

Why don't you offer lifetime memberships?

All possibilities are being examined, but at this time we will not offer lifetime memberships. Until we know what our long-term costs will be, we cannot predict if a lifetime membership option is fiscally prudent.

How much does Schedules Direct cost?

A membership at Schedules Direct currently costs US$25 / year. You are also allowed a no-strings-attached 7 day free trial. If you sign up for a trial account, you are responsible for following the payment instructions on your "my account" page — we will never auto-bill you.

Why are you charging for something that you used to provide for free?

I think that you have us confused with the Zap2it Labs project, which used to offer a data service similar to the one available to Schedules Direct members. Tribune Media Services tried to keep Zap2it Labs running for free, but was eventually required to shut it because commercial entities were abusing the free service.

The only relationship Schedules Direct has to Zap2it Labs is that we license data from Tribune Media Services, which ran Zap2it Labs while it existed. We have to charge a membership fee because Tribune charges us a licensing fee and we do not have enough large donors to pay for it without financial help from our members, through their donations and membership fees.

Why are you using PayPal?

PayPal offers an API that our developers are familiar with, which was necessary because of the short time frame the Schedules Direct project was given to implement a solution. Schedules Direct will not store your credit card information - we don't even see it. You do not need a PayPal account to subscribe to the Schedules Direct service - PayPal will be performing Credit Card processing on our behalf.

We also now offer Google Checkout.

I can't/won't get a Paypal account. Can I send you a check?

Though we use Paypal to do our credit card processing, you do not need to have a Paypal account in order to sign up for Schedules Direct in most cases.

We also now offer Google Checkout.

If you do not feel comfortable giving out any debit/credit card numbers to one of our payment processors, you might want to look into "one time use" numbers from your credit card company, or one of the variety of "gift card" options available through many local banks and retailers (basically, it looks/works like a credit card, but has a fixed balance and no personal information attached to it).

Why don't you just tell us how much profit you'll be making from our membership fees?

There will be no profit made from your membership fees. We're registered as a nonprofit corporation, and intend to file for federal nonprofit status in the upcoming weeks (it's a lengthy process that can take up to a year to complete). No one on the board of directors is paid for his work on the board, either (much to the contrary -- this endeavor has cost some of us quite a bit of money), and our few paid employees/contractors are paid well below market rates.

Also, as much as we would like to share the details about how much we're paying for the data you use, we're contractually bound to keep that information confidential.