Definitive solution to Directv screensaver issue
I just moved into a new house and since I left my trusty old Philips Directv receiver at the old place, I became the new owner of a Directv branded D11 receiver. Shortly after this my Tivo Series 2 dual tuner 80 GB started recording the dreaded Directv screensaver. To resolve this issue I did a lot of research online, I talked with Tivo and Directv technical support, and after some experimenting I SOLVED the problem. Here is what I learned.
The Directv receiver only displays a screensaver when it is tuned to a channel that it does not receive. This is important to know because it means you can get rid of the problem by customizing your Tivo channel listing to only show the channels that you ALWAYS receive. This is not as easy to do as you think because . . .
1. Directv often changes the channels you receive. For instance, Directv will sometimes turn on channels you don't normally receive as part of a promotion and then turn them off later. Or they will change channel numbers and your Tivo doesn't get the update in a timely manner.
2. If you use the Directv receiver channel setup menu to automatically identify the channels you receive for the Channel Guide, it won't generate an accurate list. It will often show you receive channels even though you don't actually receive them.
3. After you finish Tivo's Guided Setup, it won't always generate an accurate list of channels you receive on your Tivo Guide. In other words, the list it generates may have lots of errors.
The only way you can be absolutely sure that you never record the screensaver is if you . . .
1. Manually check every channel on your receiver and generate an accurate list, preferably on paper, of all the channels you receive. Since channels occassionally activate and deactivate, you may want to do this a couple times at different times. With 1000+ channels on the Directv channel guide when no filters are set up, this can take some time.
2. After you have an accurate channel listing, go into your Tivo Menu > Messages & Settings > Settings > Channels > Channel List and select ONLY the channels you receive. Do this for all 1000+ channels that are in the list. If you don't receive HD content, you may also want to deselect the HD version of the channels you receive or vice versa if the opposite is true.
This should fix the problem. Now when you setup Season Passes, your Tivo will not try and record shows on channels you don't receive, which means your Tivo will never ask your receiver to change to a channel it doesn't receive, and the screensaver will have no reason to appear.
Miscellaneous nuggets of knowledge I discovered along the way . . .
1. Tivo technical support was not able to provide this solution to me when I called October 2008. And I couldn't find it in the Official Tivo Help resources. Although the Tivo rep I talked to was kind enough to offer to conference call Directv technical support with me, this wouldn't have made a difference. I hope Tivo updates their knowledge base because it seems like lots of people run into this problem.
2. It is not possible to turn off the Directv screensaver through a menu option on the Directv receiver. I asked the Directv tech support rep and even got the question escalated to a higher authority, but it's just not possible. Although I requested this feature to be added to Directv's receivers, I doubt it's going to happen and it doesn't really solve the problem anyway.
If the Tivo channel listing is not accurate, your Tivo will record a blank screen with a "Channel not purchased" error message instead of a screensaver. Yes, it would help troubleshooting, but it wouldn't fix the main issue which is an inaccurate Tivo channel listing which allows you to setup up recordings and Season Passes for programs on channels you don't receive.
I think this posting is accurate, but it could contain errors since I have only tested this solution with the Directv D11 receiver. If anybody knows of any errors in my posting or variations to my solution, please post them to this thread so it's easy for others to find them.
Hope this helps.
Eagle Mountain, UT