BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: Entertainment  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
Friday, 13 September, 2002, 16:40 GMT 17:40 UK
Warning over TV 'red key fatigue'
BBC Interactive
Viewers can watch news bulletins on demand

Interactive TV, the technology that gives viewers extra choice and information through remote controls, faces the risk of being stillborn, television executives have been warned.

"Red key fatigue", referring to the button viewers press to access interactive TV (iTV), has already set in because many of the current features are not good enough, a conference has been told.

Progress has been slow because equipment manufacturers and iTV producers have not lived up to promises, Europe's biggest broadcasting trade fair, IBC, heard.

Sky Digital screen shot
Sky also gives a choice of camera angles on football matches
iTV can let viewers watch extra camera angles, play games, access the internet, place bets and go shopping through their remote controls.

The long-held view in the industry was that iTV services would generate a fortune in revenues.

Interactive games and sports viewing is currently where the short-term money is being made.

But the BBC's Richard Cooper cautioned that "red key fatigue" had already set-in because some of the content is not compelling.

Mr Cooper used the conference to showcase the corporation's successes in iTV, and said they had moved on from the acclaimed Wimbledon 2001 multi-screen and results service to more regular interactive output.


Real interactivity will only come through integration of broadcast and internet

Philip Langsdale
Media consultant
But problems can occur because iTV production can still take weeks, meaning interactive timescales can lag behind regular TV production.

Testing across the muddle of digital systems, terrestrial, cable and satellite also means that time is lost.

Media consultant Philip Langsdale, formerly of BBC Technology, said broadcasters have been too slow to launch interactive services.

"Real interactivity will only come through integration of broadcast and internet", which could be reached within three to five years, he said.

Despite the setbacks, Mr Langsdale believes that true interactivity will be a key factor in hooking viewers because it offers control, personalisation, immediacy and choice.

It will keep viewers interested and help reinforce brands.

Financial problems

Matthew Huntingdon, Open TV's director of projects, said the lowest common denominator - suited to the slowest digital platform - was often the result of current projects.

In Europe, dominated by pay-TV, the operators want the best use to be made of their systems, but this is a challenge for the multi-platform iTV producers.

iTV has also been hit hard by the financial problems in European TV.

In the last year, Europe's digital TV operators have seen their revenues shrink - especially in the UK and Spain - and media advertising spend has fallen.

Not a priority

All this is taking place against a background of turmoil among telecom companies, internet sector collapse and uncertainty over government policy on digital migration in several European countries.

In today's media economy, interactivity is no longer a priority.

Fixing all the problems will require an extremely complex system infrastructure, as well as very deep pockets to support the significant investment involved.

Equally crucial, media analysts said, will be collaboration, rather than competition.

Producers, broadcasters, telecom companies, software developers and equipment manufacturers must work together - but they have traditionally found it hard to co-operate.

See also:

09 Apr 02 | Entertainment
20 Nov 01 | Entertainment
04 Dec 01 | Entertainment
06 Mar 02 | Entertainment
18 Feb 02 | Entertainment
15 Nov 01 | Entertainment
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Entertainment stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Entertainment stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes