Channel Surfing

As Verizon fibers up to bang broadband heads with the cable industry for control of your TV and Internet viewing pleasure, enter the electric utility industry with its own socket-based plan to offer broadband access.

But I digress. I really want to write about my new TV, a Samsung high-def flat panel LCD, not because it puts my 22-year-old, once state-of-the-art Mitsubishi 19-inch Diamond Vision behemoth to shame, but because Samsung, along with many other HDTV-makers, has a licensing pact with Gemstar-TV Guide wherein the latter will provide a built-in channel guide. Good-bye cable box.

The problem for Gemstar — which bought TV Guide from Murdoch who bought it from Annenberg for billions — is that the in-set channel guide for these cable card-enabled TVs does not work. No, it’s not just my new cable-ready TV, it’s all of them. Gemstar has left these manufacturers — and the purchasers of their sets — in the lurch. Now that Mark Cuban and Verizon’s FiOS fiber service are climbing into bed with Gemstar, I just thought I’d pull a Jeff Jarvis and do a little consumer activism. Alas, I don’t have as many readers as Jarvis to precipitate a consumer revolt, but it does feel good to expose Gemstar’s problem, since it remains literally out of the public eye.