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Television Content Markup Language
All television programs and commercial programming is accompanied by an out-of-band stream of metadata which you can use to route around various content, or manipulate it in various ways.
This is, to some extent, already done with closed captioning and rating codes, etc. The difference is that
"Set Top Box" allows you to programmatically do what you will with the data to control the broadcast content
rather than just sit back and soak it in. Have the history channel place programs about certain topics in
your calendar, for example.
"The content representation standard for multimedia information search, filtering, management and processing." Microsoft also has some XML based format for closed captions. [rmutt, Mar 21 2000, last modified Oct 04 2004]
"XMLTV is a set of utilities to manage your TV viewing. ..." [egnor, Mar 21 2000, last modified Oct 04 2004]
||Don't products like TiVo or Replay do this already?
||More important: Is the API published, so that clever people can goof around with it and innovate?
||TiVo, Replay have (AFAIK) proprietary data on their own servers, and I doubt it's detailed enough to indicate commercials.