ONdigital owners start trials of interactive TV

Microsoft’s WebTV Networks is to test interactive TV with Carlton Communications and Granada, which co-own ONdigital.

The six-month test, which links familiar TV programmes such as Coronation Street and London Bridge with additional information on the Internet, will be conducted in the analogue format.

ONdigital plans to introduce some interactivity to its service. And is believed to have been in talks with WebTV and a number of other potential suppliers.

Andrew Brown, head of business development at Granada Media Group, says: “We need to understand more about how consumers react to enhanced TV. This trial is helping us to see how consumers will respond to ONdigital’s planned interactive service.”

Granada will use Coronation Street, Emmerdale, Blind Date and Heartbeat in the first interactive test, while Carlton will use London Bridge, Good Stuff, Videotech and Bill Bryson’s Notes from a Small Island. Both broadcasters will produce the content for the Internet-based Web TV service.

Viewers will able to access information about the programmes they are watching by using a special handset to click on to an icon labelled ‘i’ which comes up in a corner of their TV screen.

They will be able to watch the TV while inspecting an information box in the corner of their screens.

The service is accessed through a special Web TV set-top box, made by Pace, which plugs into a telephone line.

The service will be tested on consumers in London and Liverpool, who are also taking part in a similar trial for the BBC, which started at the end of August.

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