Cable fights free ride for program guides


Cable industry officials say Gemstar Communications is trying to get something for nothing by asking regulators to require local franchises to carry competing electronic program guide data. "There is no legal support for Gemstar's outlandish position," Time Warner attorneys told the FCC last week.

Gemstar wants the FCC to force Time Warner to carry program guide signals that are buried in the vertical blanking interval of local broadcast signals. Right now, Time Warner is stripping the Gemstar signals from local channels in some markets.

The program guides can be accessed for free by TVs that feature Gemstar's decoding equipment. Gemstar says Time Warner is trying to snuff out competition to its fee-paid program guide.

Time Warner counters that it is willing to carry Gemstar signals, so long as it receives compensation.