In a surprise development, Gemstar-TV Guide International Inc. told the
Federal Communications Commission Wednesday that it was withdrawing its
long-standing complaint against Time Warner Cable regarding the stripping of
electronic program guides.
Gemstar filed the complaint last March after Time Warner began removing the
company's EPG from the vertical-blanking interval embedded in local broadcast
signals. Broadcasters also use the VBI to transmit closed-captioning for the
Time Warner claimed that Gemstar's EPG was not entitled to mandatory
carriage. Last June, amid FCC review of Time Warner Inc.'s merger with America
Online Inc., Time Warner agreed to stop stripping the EPG while Gemstar's
complaint remained active at the FCC.
According to informed sources, Gemstar told the FCC it was withdrawing the
Time Warner complaint because no cable operator was currently stripping its
guide. The company also mentioned that cable carriage of EPGs was under review
in other FCC proceedings.
According to FCC sources, chairman Michael Powell planned to vote on the
Gemstar complaint at the agency's April 19 meeting at the request of Democratic
commissioner Gloria Tristani. FCC sources indicated that Gemstar was not going
to prevail at that meeting.
Gemstar has been cutting deals with cable operators for carriage. It recently
signed Comcast Corp. to a 20-year deal, and it has another agreement in place
with Charter Communications Inc.