Things appear to be heating up at the Federal Communications Commission in
connection with Time Warner Cable's dispute with Gemstar-TV Guide International
Inc. on mandatory cable carriage of Gemstar's TV-embedded electronic program
Gemstar maintained that cable operators are required to pass through EPGs
transmitted over the vertical-blanking interval embedded in local TV signals.
Time Warner blocked Gemstar's EPG on nine systems in eight states, but the MSO
agreed to restore the service while the issue was pending at the FCC.
Gemstar complained that Time Warner had stripped EPG information from the VBI
that was intended to serve 'Guide Plus+' hardware built into TVs and other
devices sold at retail.
In April, Gemstar asked the FCC to dismiss its complaint against Time Warner
-- reportedly on the eve of an agency ruling in favor of Time Warner after
reviewing the case for more than one year -- but Time Warner instantly countered
by urging the commission to issue a ruling.
On July 27, Gemstar's team of Washington, D.C.-based lawyers met with 13 FCC
officials, including commissioners Kevin Martin and Kathleen Abernathy, as well
as aides to chairman Michael Powell and commissioners Gloria Tristani and
Michael Copps. The lawyers also met with five officials from the Cable Services
Gemstar claimed that cable carriage was mandatory
because EPGs convey 'program-related' information. But Time Warner insisted that
because Gemstar provided vast programming information well beyond the content of
the channel on which the EPG was carried, Gemstar needed carriage permission
from the cable operator.