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Key Microsoft Partner Sues Over EPG Service

By David Richards | Monday | 06/11/2006

Microsoft has been seriously embarrased by the actions of its MSN partner in Australia after they took legal action to stop consumers having access to content on their Microsoft Media Centre PC.

Microsoft's MSN partner in Australia is trying to stop consumer having access to an EPG service running on a Microsoft Media Centre. The issue has already caused problems for Microsoft Australia after PBL who are the 50% partner in NineMSN as well as a part owner in Channel Nine decided to sue EPG content provider IceTV for breach of Copyright. The company that supplies a local electronic program guide for use on Microsoft Media Centres is currently in the Federal Court fighting the action.

Ironically the bulk of Ice TV customers are buyers of locally made Microsoft Media Centres. A senior Microsoft executive said "we are concerned. We have our lawyers watching the case. we are not happy with the situation". 

 In a further embarrassment PBL via the NineMSN web are openly promoting how to use an EPG program service to record programs to a PC running Microsoft Media centre software. In a story titled Watch TV on Your PC NineMSN openly encourage consumers to use an electronic program guide on their media centre PC. This is the same type of EPG service that PBL lawyers have told the Federal Court is carrying content that they say is in breach of PBL Copyright.

PBL who have refused to comment on the story which appears under the Digital Living section of the NineMSN web site are facing the possibility that EPG services could strip them of valuable advertising dollars as consumers skip through commercials using an EPG service. In both Europe and the USA free to air TV stations are openly providing a service to EPG providers but not in Australia where free to air TV stations have dominated the media landscape.

The EPG battle turned nasty when IceTV announced that they were floating their Company on the stock exchange in an effort to raise $4 Million dollars. Just days before the float on the ASX PBL struck taking legal action against the small NSW Company.

Ironically PBL has not taken action against www.epgstream.net which is offering a free EPG guide to media centre owners. They claim that they already have nearly 2,000 users of their service.

Amanda Miller a spokesperson at NineMSN said "We cannot comment when PBL is involved in legal action on this issue. We will however investigate the issue".

Late last week leading consumer electronics Company LG launched several new screens with built in hard drives. They also showed for the first time a controversial TV commercial that openly advocates consumers to use their new hard drive technology to remove TV commercials. Ironically the TV commercials are scheduled to run on the Nine Network.

The NineNSN Digital Living story states boldly that for one-touch recording: Press the RECORD button on the remote to record a TV show you are currently watching. The recording automatically stops at the show's regularly scheduled end time.

Auto-record: Automatically schedule recording based on any four parameters: category, programme/movie title, actor, or director.

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