THE television information service Oracle is to be investigated after

complaints that it discriminated against a company in the same field.

It could lead to Oracle's business practices being referred to the

Monopolies and Mergers Commission, if director general of Fair Trading

Sir Gordon Borrie gives the go-ahead.

Investigators from the Office of Fair Trading will look at the terms

and conditions that Oracle Teletext Ltd (Oracle), provider of teletext

on ITV and Channel 4, has applied to Cambridge-based McCallum Televox

Ltd (Televox) for advertising its services on Oracle.

A spokesman for the OFT said: ''The complaint is mainly concerned with

high prices.''

It is understood that OFT inquiries have been complicated by

litigation between the two companies.

Televox provides a new type of service for teletext viewers, who can

use the telephone to call up a wide range of information on their

screens. The firm says Oracle has discriminated against it.

Televox users need a teletext receiving television and can call up

information on racehorse ratings, shares, leisure, and competitions. The

broadcasting equipment reacts to voice commands.

Sir Gordon said: ''I am concerned when a company, which is in as

strong a market position as Oracle appears to be in relation to teletext

services on the independent television networks, adopts policies which

may have the effect of frustrating the development of new, competitive


Televox is pursuing a damages claim against Oracle in a High Court

writ alleging discriminatory treatment, said Televox managing director

Dr Malcolm McConachie.

He said a High Court injunction was granted to Televox in March, 1988,

to stop Oracle blocking Televox's broadcasting signals.

In a statement, Oracle said: ''McCallum Televox Ltd are currently our

clients and the contract that we have with them for advertising space

complies with our rate card and incorporates our standard terms and