New owner of electronic program guide
TV Guide has a new owner after the Justice Dept. greenlit a $9.2 billion acquisition by Gemstar Intl. Group.Pasadena-based Gemstar said Wednesday that it had closed the stock-based deal after getting the go-ahead from Washington to combine operations expected to produce annual revenue totaling $1.5 billion. Shareholders blessed the deal in March. TV Guide stockholders now hold 45% of the equity in the new company, Gemstar-TV Guide Intl. Inc., and six of 12 seats on its board. The acquisition involved the swap of 0.6573 Gemstar shares for TV Guide Class A and B shares. Gemstar also will assume $600 million in TV Guide debt. Electronic guide provider Gemstar is a provider of electronic program guide services of the sort the venerable publisher TV Guide also has added to its operational mix of late, and it develops an array of other technologies for various audiovisual applications. Its VCR Plus is a patented “instant programming system” that allows users to record a show simply by entering a number printed in TV program guides published in newspapers and elsewhere. TV Guide has diversified from its publishing base into an assortment of electronically based businesses, including the TV Guide Channel. Its products are touted as the largest collection of print and electronic guidance products in the world. TV Guide, which will operate as a unit of the new company, is based in Tulsa, Okla. The original Radnor, Pa.-based TV Guide previously merged with Oklahoma-based United Video Satellite Group. The new company briefly will have an effective monopoly in electronic program guides, said David Williams, CEO of Chicago-based Tribune Media Service, which is beta-testing an electronic program guide that will go head-to-head with Gemstar products. “The marketplace is going to be looking for competition,” Williams said. (Dow Jones contributed to this report. )
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