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Net TV guides thrive

Online television listings, once a bizarre concept, increasingly are at the center of television and personal computer convergence.

Online television listings, once a bizarre concept, increasingly are at the center of television and personal computer convergence.

In one example, clickTV said its TV listings now include more than 11,000 cable, broadcast, and DBS (direct broadcast satellite) lineups. Users select them by typing in their zip code. "Users can now select actual channel lineups for their area, with dial positions," said Kenneth Carter, senior vice president of business development for TVData, which provides the service.

ClickTV also offers personalization features that let users create their own program listings. It also provides a search engine to check by program types and categories as well as titles, directors, and actors.

This market is expanding. Another provider is Gist, which allows users to see what is on TV, as well as the Net, each day. The company was founded in May 1996. Gist content also can be sent to users automatically using "push" technology.

Gist today said it would provide a entertainment resource for film and TV information on the Net. The company is partnering with the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) to provide TV listings and movie-related information. "For example, a visitor interested in the films of Joel Schumacher can search the IMDb to find out about the films and then go to the new service to find out when they are airing on television this week," said a statement about the cobranded deal.

Like most other online TV listings, these Web sites are free. They generate money from online advertising.

As a result, the services are yet another threat to print media. TV listings long have been a stable of metropolitan daily newspapers.

But the print media giants aren't standing flatfooted. Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., for example, runs the TV Guide Entertainment Network. Based on the popular TV Guide publication, it features a gossip column, movie reviews, games, celebrity photos, and e-commerce, as well as TV listings.