MEDIA: Discovery launches interactive TV

Discovery Networks Europe has become the first factual TV operation

in the UK to launch enhanced programming.



From this week, Sky Digital viewers will be able to use their remote

control handsets to shrink the screen and bring up a menu of related

facts, figures and quizzes on Discovery Channel, Home & Leisure,

Discovery Health and Animal Planet.



According to Tanya Field, the company's European director of new media,

the move will give greater opportunities for promotion of brands and

companies, because Independent Television Commission guidelines on the

exposure of interactive TV programme sponsors are likely to be less

stringent than for conventional TV.



'This is information you wouldn't necessarily fit into a programme. In a

factual-based environment, it is knowledge that people come for and

enhanced programming gives us the chance to extend that learning

experience,' Field said.



But she acknowledged that entertainment value remained important: 'If

people are interested, they are more likely to take away those

nuggets.'



Field insisted that interactive TV would not be superseded by internet

access through TV. 'We are not trying to provide the level of

information you would in a PC online environment. People are not looking

for 50,000 pages of information. They are looking to get the best of

both worlds and, to me, the internet on TV is not the best answer.'



Enhanced programming will account for an estimated 25 per cent of

Discovery's original programming this year. The additional content will

be handled mainly by an in-house team of content providers.



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