Gemstar-TV Guide International has put up $16 million in cash to acquire one of its competitors in the interactive program guide (IPG) and set-top applications arena - Aptiv Digital.

Burbank, Calif.-based Aptiv, maker of the “Passport” brand of IPGs, was founded in 1996 as Pioneer Digital Technologies. Aptiv was spun off from Pioneer in Q2 2005. That followed a decision by Pioneer in May 2004 to phase out its direct cable set-top business.

About the time of the spin-off in 2005, Aptiv claimed to have its software in 8.5 million set-tops with operators such as Time Warner Cable, Blue Ridge Communications, Bright House Networks, Cox Communications and Metrocast Cablevision. Of that group, Time Warner Cable has since developed an in-house navigation platform, which leverages the intellectual property for the MSO’s popular “Start Over” application.

Neil Jones, Aptiv’s president & CEO, and Haig Krakirian, will continue to manage the day-to-day operations of the Aptiv business. Jones will report to Tom Carson, president of Gemstar-TV Guide’s North American IPG group, and Krakirian will continue to report to Jones. Krakirian will also report to Steve Shannon, Gemstar-TV Guide’s EVP of product development and technology, and the person tasked with developing TV Guide’s next-gen IPG products.

“The addition of Aptiv’s products, services and capabilities will be highly complementary as we pursue our mission to provide leading-edge products and services in the area of video guidance across multiple platforms, both here in the United States and abroad,” said Gemstar-TV Guide CEO Rich Battista, in a statement.

The acquisition of Aptiv will shrink the number of competitors in the IPG pool. Microsoft TV remains in the competitive mix, though it has found more recent success with telco TV operators.

GuideWorks, yet another key IPG player, is a joint venture of Gemstar and Comcast Corp.