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CBS to Carry Gemstar-TV Guide IPG Data

CBS’ local stations will distribute Gemstar-TV Guide International’s on-screen interactive-program-guide data using a portion of their digital spectrum as part of a multiyear distribution and advertising deal that Gemstar said will make its IPG available to more than 95% of U.S. households.

The deal gives Gemstar-TV Guide a digital distribution channel to reach TV viewers with an on-screen guide. Currently, the company contracts with National Datacast, a for-profit subsidiary of PBS, which uses the vertical-blanking interval in the analog spectrum to distribute data.

Gemstar-TV Guide put the deal in place with an eye on the Federal Communications Commission’s February 2009 deadline for discontinuing analog broadcasts, said Tom Carson, the company’s president of North American IPG.

The agreement, announced Wednesday, allows for the distribution of data for the TV Guide On Screen IPG over both CBS owned-and-operated stations and participating affiliates. The companies said distribution will begin as soon as the necessary equipment is installed in the next several months. Financial terms were not disclosed.

CBS and its affiliates have access to an unspecified portion of the ad inventory on the TV Guide IPG to promote their programming, both nationally and locally, but the stations will not be permitted to sell to outside advertisers.

Why CBS? “We were looking for a partner that might have been interested in our advertising and also had a good, solid distribution network and a good, solid relationship with their affiliates,” Carson said.

Gemstar-TV Guide’s deal with CBS is not technically exclusive, but, Carson said, “This is clearly the single way we want to do our [digital] distribution.”

Only viewers who have digital-TV sets or digital-video recorders that embed the TV Guide On Screen technology will be able to access the IPG. Manufacturers that have signed deals with Gemstar-TV Guide to embed the IPG in their consumer-electronics products include Mitsubishi, Hitachi, Panasonic and Sony Electronics.