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TV Guide shares rally on AOL pact

In just the latest example of Internet insanity, shares of TV Guide Inc. (Nasdaq: TVGIA) stormed up 4 5/8, or 16 percent, to 33 Wednesday simply on news that AOL subscribers will be able to access its television program listings at no extra charge.

Company officials said TV Guide's online unit will provide television listings and episode information across four AOL brands -- AOL, CompuServe, AOL.COM, and Netscape Netcenter.

That's great news, but there will be no exchange of cash or stock in the deal. It's an open-ended agreement.

In return, TV Guide will receive "prominent" placement on eight America Online (NYSE: AOL) channels, including Entertainment, Families, Teens, Kids Only, AOL Live, Sports and others.

"This agreement is a clear example of two leading brands joining forces to add convenience to consumers' lives," said Bob Pittman, AOL's COO, in a prepared release. "With TV Guide's television programming expertise, AOL continues to offer consumers the next level of interactivity and rich media content across all of its brands."

TV Guide will also receive online promotion in My Calendar, AOL's new interactive calendar.

In its second quarter, TV Guide Inc. earned $9.8 million, or 6 cents a share, on sales of $313 million.

First Call consensus expects it to earn 1 cent a share in its third quarter and 21 cents a share in the fiscal year.

The stock surged to a 52-week high of 50 1/4 in March after falling to a low of 10 1/4 in October.

All five analysts following the stock maintain either a "buy" or "strong buy" recommendation.>