A new look and new launches were the theme of TV Guide Channel’s media presentation Tues, with Gemstar [GMST] CEO Jeff Shell calling DirecTV’s recent adoption of the channel "a validation" of the net. TV Guide used the event to announce carriage deals with Mediacom [MCCC] (the MSO’s 1st multi-year deal for the net) and Cebridge. Shell, speaking at NY’s 40/40 Club (a stylish venue owned by rapper Jay-Z), said the net’s recent the jump from 58mln to 70mln HHs demonstrates that "operators recognized that what we’re doing with the channel makes sense." While we reported details of the re-launch back in ’03 (Cfax, 12/02), yesterday was the 1st opportunity we had to actually see segments of "What’s On," a guide to the evening’s primetime menu; the one-hour weekly series "TV Guide Close-Up" and "TV Talk," a very meta take on TV star viewing habits—in other words, TV about TV. When asked if he saw any similarities between the new programming and early E! offerings, TV Group pres Ian Aaron said that he’s not in the business of competing with E!. "We’re not ‘Howard Stern.’ We’re not ‘Wild On’ or ‘Anna Nicole,’" Aaron remarked. "That’s not a direction we’re interested in going." But the question remains: will people watch this stuff-especially digital subs who rely heavily on their IPGs? CEO Jeff Shell says that users will tune in for both the scroll and the shows because they need both. "You can’t surf 1K channels," he said. "What we’re trying to do is turn the TV Guide Channel into a guidepost." The new TV Guide goes live Mon.

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