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Comcast, Cox to Buy MetaTV: Sources

A Comcast Corp. and Cox Communications Inc. joint venture is expected to say that it has added MetaTV Inc. to its stable of purchased software companies, industry sources said.

California-based MetaTV is developing interactive-TV applications for both the OpenCable Application Platform and the OnRamp to OCAP platforms.

Its acquisition by the TVWorks joint venture is seen as a way for Comcast and Cox to consolidate interactive-TV-software development within the JV that bought most of Liberate Technologies’ assets in April for $82 million. TV Works is majority-owned by Comcast and minority-owned by Cox.

At the May 2004 National Show, MetaTV showcased applications running on Liberate middleware.

MetaTV has been closely tied to Comcast and Cox for years.

Both MSOs participated in MetaTV’s funding round in 2002, which generated $21 million.

And in April, Cox said it would announce the launch of MetaTV interactive-TV services -- such as customer-service applications that let subscribers pay bills or upgrade programming via remote control -- in up to five markets this year. The rollouts were to start in the Gulf Coast of Florida, and they would be free to Cox customers who receive digital-video services.

“Eventually we’d like to launch in all of our markets. I think it will happen over the coming two years,” Cox director of interactive-TV product development Vince Groff said in April.

Comcast’s efforts to buy out vendors’ software intellectual property also include 2004’s GuideWorks JV with Gemstar-TV Guide International Inc., encompassing Gemstar’s interactive-program-guide development.

In all, Comcast is said to have around 500 software engineers working at the ventures.