Sunday, January 1, 2012


I have had I don't how many conversations wih people about TV schedules.  I can remember an earlier age where they would say 8 PM Eastern, 7 PM Central.  So that makes it 6 PM for Mountain and 5 PM for Pacific, right?  Wrong.  Here is where we get into a lot of problems.

I just went and shifted my History H2 channel from EST to MST in the browser on the computer.  Wonders of wonders and miracles of miracles, it is correct according to what Comcast provides.  But H2 which used to be the International History Channel has never had the problems the History Channel has.  So I shift to the History Channel with Comcast and it is showing "Hairy Bikers, Squirrel Stew".  No amount of shifting the time zone in the browser makes it line up.  How in the world are they going to get it right for DST when they don't get it right now.  There may be a possibility Comcast is airing later but I doubt it.

Since I am in the MST zone I should shift to it, right?  Wrong.  What I do is note the following for every channel.

1. How many feeds do the have?  Occasionally but very rarely would they have one for all four continental United States Time Zones.  Usually they have an Eastern feed at one UTC time and a Pacific feed at a UTC time that is three hours later which means the local time for both the east and west coast are the same.  Central usually gets the eastern feed which means it is one hour earlier in local time.  Mountain can get either Eastern in which case it is two hours earlier or Pacific which means it is an hour later. Some times they have only one feed.  In that case Central is an hour earlier than Eastern, Mountain is two hours earlier than Eastern, and Pacific is three hours earlier than Eastern in local time.  Occasionally, Central has its own feed.

2. You will note I studiously avoid mentioning the feeds in anything other than UTC time.  If you don't do that you foul up.   EST = UTC-5, CST = UTC-6, MST = UTC-7, and PST = UTC-8.  For DST you just subtract one less hour.

3.  Where the problem comes in for MST/MDT is Arizona and attempting to use local time because Arizona is always MST.  I can guarantee that well over half of the TV channels will never get Mountain time straight because of that.

4. Finally I just set it to which ever feed Mountain gets and do the adding and subtracting myself.  Except for the History and a few other channels that usually works, until we have a DST shift.  That usually fouls things up for a few days.

Fortunately, Comcast and other cable providers seem to get things straight.  But even maneuvering around 24 hours in advance is sometimes impossible.  So if you want to see what time Christmas programs come on you really need to use the browser.

Now we add to this already complex situation DST.  When I started off a long time ago I showed just complex that is in a previous blog entry I showed a picture how they have to do those transitions.  I have news people - they are special pages they have to put in place twice per year to handle.  Some never do get it handled.  They have my sympathy.  But more to the point it causes problems for me in knowing what is on when.  There are some Channels I do have mapped out but even now, some are mystery to me.  The History Channel (not H2) will never get it straight until DST is abolished.  They are not the only ones.

So what are airlines, buses, and trains using?  If they are smart they are using UTC time.  Again, using DST fouls them up no end.  A long time ago they were able to use the local times.  But the trains and plane especially probably just use UTC time to avoid collisions.  The avoidance of train collisions was what drove the decision for time zones in the first place on land.  It was always needed at sea for longitude.

There is no doubt in my mind that doing away with DST and having the channels work from the base of their UTC time feeds will finally bring an end to the madness of finding what is airing when.  We will never achieve consistent across the board TV schedules unless we get rid of DST!  Next, Energy Savings.

No comments:

Post a Comment