Prevue (ESQ)

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Prevue Grid displaying an ad

The Prevue software (internally named ESQ) was used to power the Prevue Channel from its inception in 1988. In the US, it was phased out in 2000, and replaced by the Windows-based Hollywood platform. In other markets, it was maintained until 2002. Like EPG Sr., Prevue ran on the Amiga platform.

The Prevue software had 3 different names over the course of its usage: Prevue Guide, Prevue Channel, and lastly, for just a few months, TV Guide Channel. Three versions of the Prevue Grid software, 9.0.4, which is thought to be the final version, 7.8.3 (binary only), and 7.3.13 (Amiga 1000) are currently on the internet. The 9.0.4 disk contains cached listings from December 13, 1999, meaning that if an Amiga running the software is set to that date, listings are shown. Because the software internally counts days from January 1, the year is unimportant, but if a leap year is used, make sure to select December 12th instead. Under emulation, the most reliable way to set the Amiga date is to change it on the host computer, as WinUAE will always reset the clock to that of the host upon a reboot.

The Blue Grid software initializing displaying the software version and select code
The Blue Grid's Scroll Speed can go over 9000 (9001 displayed here, a few minutes before was brought down from 9003)

Version History

The initial version of the Prevue Guide software displaying channel information for The Disney Channel.

Two variations of the software exist, including the initial version, which launched in 1987, and an updated version released in 1993. The initial version of the software (referred to on this wiki as Prevue List), like EPG Sr., displayed a list of what was and soon to be shown on each channel, divided by different timeslots. In 1993, the software was updated to feature a grid that showed the current listings and the next two timeslots for each channel simultaneously. This version of the software was internally called the New Look (referred to on this wiki as Prevue Grid). The New Look software release could optionally use either a Grid or List (Scroll) display.


This version of the Prevue Grid software requires the following minimum specifications:

  • 2.04 or 2.05 Kickstart ROM
  • Chip RAM: 1.0MB
  • Fast RAM: 1.0MB
  • CPU: 68000
  • Chipset: ECS

When running it under emulation, it's a good idea to make the window size 760x480 - this causes the image to be perfectly centered in the window. To create screenshots with the proper aspect (to simulate what you'd get from a video capture on a real Amiga), crop the 760x480 screenshots down to 740x480, then resize it using a bilinear algorithm to 640x480.

Common Amiga Guru Meditation error produced by Prevue Grid

This particular Guru Meditation error is caused by insufficient chip RAM. Insufficient fast RAM will not cause a Guru Meditation, but it will cause the software to throw an ER011 error and freeze up. It is not compatible with Kickstart 3.1 - the software will boot, but there are major graphical problems. It is compatible with the AGA chipset, but requires softkicking with a 2.x ROM in order to avoid the glitches.


The software has several different modes, which are accessible through the system's menu. To access the menu, press ESC while in listings mode. The keyboard commands that are available depend on which mode the software is in. While in Diagnostic mode, any keypress that is not recognized by the software as a valid command will dump back out to the main menu.

Listings mode

Key Combination Description
CTRL-b 9.0.4: Shows SCRLSPD = x on the top half, showing the current scroll speed.

7.8.2 cycles the colour palette for the lower half of the display

CTRL-c Redraw the screen. This is not done cleanly - there are glitches while it happens, but it redraws the screen freshly.
CTRL-d Decreases the scroll delay by 1 (making it faster). This also allows access to the "disallowed" speeds 0 and 1.
CTRL-e Increases the scroll delay by 1 (making it slower). If you press CTRL+B beforehand, the on-screen speed will change as well.
CTRL-g Draws a calibration grid, which is useful for adjusting an attached monitor to ensure that none of the image is being cut off at the edges. If done in Listings mode, it can cause display corruption which will be repaired once the listings have a chance to cycle around. This works in Diagnostic mode too, but causes the software to erroneously begin using the listings font to draw the diagnostic menu instead of the ad-editing font, causing text to be positioned incorrectly.
CTRL-s Causes the listings to switch into single-step mode. Each keypress of Ctrl-s from this point will make the listings scroll one step, then stop.
CTRL-u Stops all listings after the current "block" fully scrolls on the screen. allowing the clock to stop and no more blocks to scroll onto the screen, parking the floppy drive and enabling a safe reboot or shutdown.
c Causes the current color palette to be displayed on top of the listings.
e Saves error log to DF0:err.log.
f 9.0.4 only: Causes text to appear on the top half denoting some internal settings. It is currently unknown how to modify these settings.

if the text mode is right, you will see three rows of text, with ClockCmd on the bottom row.

g Triggers graphical ad mode, which currently goes through all the banners present on the disk.
h Displays CLU (channel) information on the top half of the screen. (Use SHIFT+A first to see it clearly.) Each press steps through the list. CTRL-h steps backwards through the list.
j Shows PI (programme information) on the top half of the screen, according to which ever CLU was just selected by pressing H. Each press steps through the 48 timeslots. CTRL-j steps backwards through the timeslots.
k Tries to load clock.cmd from DF0, which fails giving the disk we have (although there's a ClockCmd=1 shown on the diagnostics when pressing F.)
l Left Video - Draws a black overlay over the right half of the screen, allowing only the left half to be seen. If emulated or no genlock card (or emulation) present, the grid position is shifted.
n Causes the top half to switch to color 0, enabling display of external video via the genlock.
p Reloads gradient.ini from DF0: (use unknown)
r Right Video - Draws a black overlay over the left half of the screen, allowing only the right half to be seen. If emulated or no genlock card (or emulation) present, the grid position is shifted.
s Causes the listings to continue scrolling.
y Cycles the colour indexes of the 32 colour palette used on the top half. The graphics ("logos") on the disk we currently have are all in 320x240 32 colours. Adverts are actually shown on a 32 colour screen, although only 8 colors are accesible via the editor. Press it 32 times to return to the "normal" palette.
/ Cycles through 9 "Viewmode" tests on the top half. They cycle through different resolutions and different positions. (left half, right half, full screen.
A Displays text ads on the top half, and will cycle through all ads that are marked "active" through the menu.
D Causes the software to reload its current listings from its cache stored on the disk.
K Creates a list of the logo files within DFO:logos and updates DF0:logo.lst. This is done in the background.
N Causes some diagnostic text stating "BitPlane1 = 40468" to appear over the listings. Numbers seen have been 40468, 3C3A8 and 38568. Unsure as to the reason this exists.
S Causes the listings to stop scrolling.
T Seems to have the same function as A.

Diagnostic mode

Key Combination Description
SHIFT+1 Changes TEXT between L, S, N, and R. L most likely means Local, as setting TEXT to L is the only way to access the Edit Ads and Edit Attributes main menu items. Unsure about the others but it's possible that either S (serial) or R (RS-232) refers to feeding ads in over serial. S may also refer to Satellite (though operationally this would be the same as Serial).
SHIFT+2 Changes VIN between L, I, Z, N, Y, and y. Perhaps VIN refers to Video INput? Conjecture at this point without a manual or some good old RE'ing.
SHIFT+3 Changes LINE between 6, 5, 4, and 3. This controls the maximum number of text lines per ad.
SHIFT+4 Changes GRPH between L, R, S, N, and Y. Once again, it is unknown what this means, perhaps it allows the PowerPacked IFF files to come in from another source, allowing graphic updates without exposing the UI to the viewer?
SHIFT+9 Causes a brief pop-up above the visual indicators for these settings that says Start TAPE Video.
SHIFT+0 Causes a brief pop-up in the same spot as Shift-9 that says stop.
1 Changes audio to silence. Appropriate serial control sent back to the demod card.
2 Changes audio to left channel (i.e. video showing on the left half of the top screen)
3 Changes audio to right channel
4 Changes audio to background music
5 Causes Ext. Video Only to appear haphazardly over the "Press any key to continue." prompt.
6 Causes Computer Only to appear there.
7 Causes Overlay Ext. Video to appear there.
8 Causes Negative Video to appear there.
9 Causes Video Switch Open to appear where the earlier Start and Stop message did.
CTRL+a Shows all free RAM types.
CTRL+c Shows free chip RAM.
CTRL+f Shows free fast RAM.
CTRL+m Shows largest contiguous block of RAM.
c Shows (8-bit) julian date information again overlaid over other information. Julian day and next represents CURDAY and NXTDAY. jday1 and jday2 are the julian dates found in the cached files.

Special Characters

The following is a list of special characters available on the Prevue Grid software in the listings. These characters are drawn from the PrevueC.font file, but the order of the characters does not quite match up exactly with their order in the font itself. These were discovered by editing the curday.dat file, which contains the current listings cache.

  • 7C - CC
  • 80 - Right Triangle
  • 81 - Upside-Down Right Triangle
  • 82 - Right Double Triangle
  • 83 - Upside-Down Double Right Triangle
  • 84 - R
  • 85 - PG
  • 86 - ADULT
  • 87 - PG-13
  • 88 - Left Triangle
  • 8E - VCRPlus+
  • 8F - NC-17
  • 90 - TVY
  • 91 - Headphones
  • 92 - Disney Logo
  • 93 - TVY7
  • 94 - 16ANS+
  • 95 - HBO
  • 96 - 18ANS+
  • 97 - 13ANS+
  • 98 - CINEMAX
  • 99 - TVG
  • 9A - TV14
  • 9B - TVPG
  • 9C - WOW (Phone)
  • 9D - G TOUS
  • A1 - TVM
  • A2 - Upside-Down Exclamation Point
  • A3 - TVMA
  • A4+ Symbols

Known Error Codes

ER009 is shown because TVGBANNR.UV is missing
  • ER005 - Attempt to boot on 1.x Kickstart (cannot actually be seen, since 2.0 is the minimum KS for the Amiga FFS format)
  • ER007 - No listings data available
  • ER009 - The wrong color palette is being used in the file defined in Banner.ini, the color palette must contain 8 colors
  • ER010 - The resolution of the file defined in banner.ini is too large
  • ER011 - Insufficient chip or fast RAM available
  • ER012 - Too much chip ram (2MB+ throws this error!)

External Links

Prevue List example

Blue Grid Example

Emulated Blue Grid Example