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
Field insisted that interactive TV would not be superseded by internet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.