A succession of variable length data packets containing a header portion and data portion are received. Selected data from the data packet headers is stored in designated locations of a header memory. A data packet start address is provided with each stored header portion to designate a location in a data memory for commencing the storage of data contained in a corresponding data packet. The data from the received data packets is stored commencing in the data memory locations designated by the corresponding data packet start addresses. In an illustrated embodiment, the data packets are macroblocks from digitized television frames. A plurality of next data packet position indicators are provided in the data, for use in periodically verifying macroblock boundaries during the receipt of the television data and to provide a rapid recovery from a transmission error affecting the actual or identified length of a macroblock.