mythupchuk -- MYTHtv script to UPdate CHannels for the UK
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mythupchuk -- MYTHtv script to UPdate CHannels for the UK

mythupchuk is a helper script for use with MythTV.

The problem is that it's difficult to line up channel names, numbers, icons and scheduling information for broadcasts in the UK.

Various people have come up with SQL scripts and other methods of solving the problem. This is my solution.

This may even be useful in countries other than the UK.

PLEASE backup your MythTV database (or at least the 'channel' table) before running this script: I've tested it, but I can't guarantee that it won't destroy your MythTV installation, or your whole computer for that matter.
See the GPL3 licence for details.

How It Works

mythupchuk combines information from a number of sources:

  1. the mythtv database -- specifically the 'channel' table;
  2. xmltvids from the output of the tv_grabber_uk_rt command;
  3. icons from sites as such
  4. a user-edited file of channel details

Matching the file with the database is done by using fields sourceid and serviceid. Normally this gives a unique match, but it is possible (if signals are received from more than one transmitter, for example) for duplicates to occur: mythupchuk copes with this situation, and updates all matching channels.

Matching channel names in the file against the xmltvid is more tricky: some of the names in the xmltvid list are different, and a few trick have to used to make them line up. Firstly, names are converted to lower case and all the spaces are removed. Then the script applies a set of rules such as:

return 'bbconeyorkshire&lincolnshire'   if /^bbc1yrks&lin$/;
return 'bbconenorthernireland'          if /^bbc1ni$/;
return "bbcone$1"                       if /^bbc1(.*)$/;    # BBC1 catch-all

Freeview channels sometimes don't include a region. mythupchuk defaults to BBC 1 South, BBC 2 England, and ITV Meridian. These defaults can be overridden using the --bbc1, --bbc2, --itv, --c4, --c5, and --stv options.

The xmltvid information also contains the icon urls that are used to obtain channel icons.

With the --fileupdate option, mythupchuk modifies the input file with up-to-date information from the database: new channels are added to the end of the file, and channels that no longer exist are marked with a '#x' prefix which acts like a comment. If a '#x'-commented channel reappears (after retuning for example), the prefix is removed.

Note that the xmltvid and icon columns in the file are intended only to override the values from the tv_grabber command: these values are not changed in the file by running mythupchuk with the --fileupdate option.

With the --dbupdate option, the channel name, number, callsign, and visible flag are updated in the database from the values in the input file. The xmltvid and icon fields for a channel are also updated from the tv_grabber information, unless overridden by entries in the input file.

Options --fileupdate and --dbupdate can be used together. Database updates are done first, and then the file updates.

An example channel file is included -- the one currently used by the author, which may not be to everyone's taste. The channel numbering is non-standard, and the choice of which channels to exclude is a personal one. And it's for a system where source id 1 is Freesat, and source id 2 is Freeview. Do not update your database from this file until you have edited it to meet your needs, and removed that deliberately-invalid line at the end. It will give you an idea of what can be done, though.


The following diagram summarises the flow of information when using mythupchuk.

                                                  (  TV Grabber  )
                                                xmltvid and icon
+-----------+       --dbupdate:                  /                        +------------+
| Database  | <---- Update channel details <----'--- name, callsign, ---- | mythupchuk |
| 'channel' |       Delete channels                  channum, etc.        |    input   |
|  table    |                        --fileupdate:                        |    file    |
+-----------+ ---------------------- Add new channels ------------------> +------------+  
                                     Mark non-existing channels 

Typical Usage

  1. Set up MythTV, and tune in your tuners. You'll probably end up with lots of channels in a not very useful order, and no schedule information.
  2. Run

    mythupchuk --fileupdate channels.list

where 'channels.list' is the name of a non-existent file that will be created.

  1. Edit 'channels.list' (or whatever you called it), to set the channel numbers to your liking. You can also change the callsigns and names, but make sure that the name will still match the name of the corresponding xmltvid (see above). Don't change the sourceid or serviceid column.
    Set the 'visible' column to 1 for channels that you don't want in the listings.
    Set the 'delete' column to 1 for channels that you want to get rid of completely.

  2. Run

    mythupchuk --dbupdate channels.list

to check the file and see what changes would be made to the database.

  1. When you're happy with the results, run

    mythupchuk --dbupdate --commit channels.list

to actually change the MythTV database.

You can re-run mythupchuk --dbupdate [--commit] at any time when you've made some more changes to the file.

When channels in the database have changed, because you've retuned for example, you can run mythupchuk --fileupdate channels.list which will add any new channels to the end of the file, and mark no-longer-found channels with the special comment-like prefix '#x' to indicate their non-existence.

Deleting Channels

Setting the delete flag for a channel, and then running mythupchuk --dbupdate --commit will delete the channel from the database. Note that there is no way to undelete a channel, other than retuning, because the mythupchuk input file does not store all the information from the database. Changing a channel's delete flag back to '0' will not magically make the channel appear again, but will mean that the channel does not get deleted again after retuning.

Xmltvids and Icons

In the UK, TV schedule information is available from Radio Times Ltd. via computer-readable listings which can be obtained using the the tv_grabber_uk_rt programme. It produces a listing such as this excerpt:

<channel id="">
    <display-name>BBC One Northern Ireland</display-name>
    <icon src="" />
<channel id="">
    <display-name>BBC One Yorkshire</display-name>
    <icon src="" />

which mythupchuk parses and matches against the channel names (see above).

mythupchuk runs the command like this:

tv_grab_uk_rt --list-channels --config-file /dev/null 2> /dev/null

Note the use of /dev/null as the configuration file, which makes sure that it obtains details of all possible channels, ignoring ~/.xmltv/tv_grab_uk_rt.conf.


Thank you to the following people who have contributed to this project:

  • Stephen Robertson, for adding STV1, and improvements to the documentation (September 2012).
  • Roger Siddons, for some better channel name hacks (and other patches yet to be incorporated (September 2014).


mythupchuk is released under the GNU General Public Licence version 3 or later.
This and any other documentation provided with mythupchuk is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation Licence version 1.3 or later.

It has been written by Chris Dennis, Please feel free to contact the author at that address with any questions or comments.

Version 0.3.2, 16 November 2012