FCC backs cable on EPG issue

Cable systems are not required to carry
electronic program guides embedded in TV stations' broadcast signals, the
Federal Communications Commission said Thursday.

At issue was whether EPGs, which many stations want to transmit in the
vertical blanking interval (VBI) portion of their signals, are 'program-related'
material that cable systems are required to pass through to subscribers.

Broadcast EPGs, which are updated at various times to viewers and not emitted
continuously on the VBI, are not directly related to programming airing during
the transmission.

The EPG designer 'fails to tie its VBI material to any specific program or
any specific station,' the FCC wrote.

The FCC review was requested by Gemstar-TV Guide International Inc., developer of broadcast-generated EPGs, and Time Warner Cable.

Gemstar argued that EPGs are program-related material.

The decision applies only to analog transmissions.

The FCC is still examining whether cable must carry EPGs transmitted over
broadcasters' digital signals, which have no VBI.