Yoomedia has signed an agreement with Gemstar-TV Guide International to deliver its electronic programme guide to a new range of digital terrestrial television set-top boxes in the UK.

The Guide Plus+ EPG will be a free seven day guide that will enable viewers to navigate, sort, select, and schedule television programming for viewing or recording.

Although the system will be free to the consumer, companies wising to use the system will have to licence it from Gemstar-TV Guide.

Earlier this year the Radio Times magazine, which is owned by BBC Worldwide, announced that it would offer an electronic programme guide in conjunction with Gemstar-TV Guide.

Seven-day programme information is already available on Freeview digital terrestrial television in the UK as part of the broadcast signal. However, in the ‘horizontal’ retail market, based on open standards, the presentation of the programme guide is left to the receiver manufacturer.

In contrast, on a ‘vertical’ integrated platform, as provided by BSkyB, the programme guide is provided as part of the service. This has given the satellite broadcaster an advantage in being able to offer its Sky+ personal video recorder as an integral extension of the platform.

Following the collapse of ITV Digital there were delays in implementing advance programme information on Freeview, which led to some providers of receivers offering third-party programme listings to support personal video recorder features.

Meanwhile, the BBC has been toying with a new standard, known as TV-Anytime, which aims to offer improved programme information metadata, but has yet to be deployed.

Gemstar-TV Guide is best known in the UK for the Video Plus+ system that it licenses to companies to allow video recorders to be programmed with a short numeric code.

In the US, Gemstar-TV Guide provides electronic programme guides, as well as publishing TV Guide magazine and producing an associated television channel.

Lydie Levy, European managing director of Gemstar-TV Guide, said in a statement: “I am very pleased to announce the launch of our GUIDE Plus+ service on digital terrestrial in conjunction with such a well-respected and technically-proficient partner as YooMedia.”

Under the agreement, Guide Plus+ will be offered to consumer electronics companies to incorporate in their products, and will be supported by what YooMedia calls in its announcement a “unique new facility on Freeview, known as ‘datacasting'”.

YooMedia explained to informitv that while they are not claiming that datacasting is unique to YooMedia – it is after all the basis of interactive television – they claim their application on a commercial basis in the manner that they are offering it on Freeview is unique.

In addition, YooMedia and Gemstar-TV Guide say they will collaborate to research and develop value-added rich-media interactive services, including advertising, integrated with the electronic programme guide.

YooMedia recently signed a deal with Electra Entertainment to provide what it calls next-generation interactive entertainment services, including the development of fixed odds gaming, for digital terrestrial television set-top boxes. The company says the services will include richer functionality, graphics and sound than currently available on Freeview.

The management of Electra includes Jasper Smith, the co-founder of interactive games company Playjam, and the former European chief technology officer of Gemstar-TV Guide.