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Macrovision Backtracks On TV Guide Network and Sale; Chooses Lionsgate Instead

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The TV Guide saga continues … Macrovision (NSDQ: MVSN) has done an about-face and found a very interesting new buyer for its TV Guide Network and TV Guide Online properties — Lionsgate Entertainment (LGE). The TV production firm and movie studio is slated to buy the properties from Macrovision for $255 million, the same price Macrovision had agreed to sell it to Allen Shapiro and One Equity Partners for (plus a $45 million earnout payable for the next three years) less than a month ago. That deal was expected to close on April 1, 2009. Similar to the previous One Equity deal, MVSN will still have some connections with TVG Online: Macrovision retains the B2B online TV grid syndication business, which it licenses to other portals and mobile guides.

Macrovision’s CFO James Budge told the WSJ that the company went with the new deal because it seemed more certain to close: “At the end of the day, overall deal considerations were superior with the Lionsgate deal in all circumstances.” This new deal is slated to close in February. This means LGE has finally bought a full fledged TV channel for the first time, though it has a 33 percent stake in horror channel FearNet, with the rest being owned by Sony (NYSE: SNE) and Comcast.

It’s the latest development in Macrovision’s push to shore up financially after its acquisition of TV Guide’s parent company Gemstar: the company sold the print version of TV Guide to PE firm OpenCapital for $1 (and agreed to loan the firm up to $9.5 million to help continue publishing) in October. As for Lionsgate, the Journal notes that this deal just broadens the studio’s cable TV footprint: it currently produces award-winning shows like Mad Men and Weeds and has a premium movie channel in the works (a JV with *Viacom*, MGM and Paramount).

BW spoke to LGE CEO Jon Feltheimer, a onetime Sony TV executive, who says the studio plans to show off Lions Gate movies, TV shows, and a library of some 12,000 films and TV shows, including Will & Grace, Saturday Night Live, and the Rambo series on the channel.