Cablevision Drops TV Guide Channel

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Cablevision Systems Corp. is dropping the TV Guide Channel passive scrolling guide for the Zap2It guide from Gemstar-TV Guide International Inc. rival Tribune Media Services.

The MSO is consolidating its passive guide offering, which is currently split between TV Guide Channel — available in 1.2 of its 3 million basic homes — and its native guide, known as Channel 14, spokesman Jim Maiella said.

Pricing had nothing to do with Cablevision's decision to drop TV Guide Channel, Maiella said. He said that Zap2It is more flexible and gives the MSO more control of the guide's messaging feature, which were the key reasons for the switch.

The deal provides a good boost for Tribune, which distributes Zap2It to about 1.8 million subscribers in the U.S. and Canada. The company also has a hunting license with Time Warner Cable, which has rolled out Zap2It in Orlando, Fla.; Syracuse, N.Y.; and some small systems in Mississippi and Nebraska, said Tribune Media Services vice president of entertainment products Barbara Needleman.

Gemstar chief operating officer Jeff Shell downplayed Cablevision's decision to drop TV Guide Channel, calling it a "short-term financial decision" on the MSO's part.

Unlike TV Guide Channel, which carries advertising (Gemstar splits its avails with operators), Tribune allows operators to decide whether or not to run ads on Zap2It.

Maiella said he did not know whether Cablevision would run ads on Zap2It.

Tribune's key pitch to operators is the flexibility it offers with the Zap2It guide, said Needleman.

"Basically, our goal overall is to make it work for the operator, from the branding to the look and feel," she said.

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