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Microsoft channels TV guide

Microsoft licenses an on-screen TV programming technology from StarSight Telecast.

Expanding its reach, Microsoft said today that it will pay StarSight Telecast $20 million to use its on-screen TV programming technology.

Under the proposed agreement, Microsoft will pay StarSight, of Fremont, California, for a nonexclusive, worldwide license for StarSight's intellectual property. A company spokeswoman had no specifics on how Microsoft is going to use the TV technology.

The agreement "gives Microsoft access to enabling technologies for future software products and services on the PC platform," said Craig Mundie, senior vice president of Microsoft's consumer platform division. "Microsoft and StarSight Telecast expect to have continuing business opportunities together as a result of this licensing arrangement."

The deal is a boon for StarSight, which has struggled to find markets for its well-regarded technology. StarSight designs and markets easy-to-use systems to identify, select, and record television programming.

Its on-screen TV program guide allows viewers to select programs by various means, including title, theme, or channel. Then it allows viewers to program a VCR with the touch of a button.

Brian Klosterman, StarSight's president and CEO, said the agreement will enhance StarSight's position in the industry and its ability "to offer leading-edge technologies and products for our new subscribers."

StarSight is a publicly held company, backed by strategic partners Viacom, Thomson Multimedia, Cox Communications, Tribune Company, Providence Journal Company and Time Warner.

StarSight's stock jumped 3/8 to 9-1/4 in midday trading. It has traded as low as 2-1/4 and as high as 11-3/4 in the past year.