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By | May 9, 2001

      Discovery Networks Europe (DNE) has launched enhanced television programmes in the UK on Sky Digital, saying it is the first “factual entertainment broadcaster in the UK to launch enhanced and interactive programming”.

      After an initial seven-week trial period on the twice weekly Discovery Today show (Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning), DNE is rolling out a range of services across Discovery Channel, Discovery Home & Leisure, Discovery Health and Animal Planet.

      At a briefing in London, Interspace was shown that the enhanced service offers additional information on the subjects on the 30-minute show, as well as quick quiz options while remaining in the TV screen environment.

      Tanya Field, DNE European director of new media, said that enhanced services are only available to Sky Digital’s 5.25 million subscribers at present because the cable sector cannot offer interactive TV yet. Field noted that she hopes NTL will be able to offer it by the first quarter of 2002, allowing cable viewers to have access to its new product.

      The rollout kicked off with the macabre Tales From The Black Morgue II on Discovery Channel on 21:30 GMT on Friday May 4.

      In the latter half of 2001 further enhanced application will appear for shows such as The Ultimate Guide To Mummies (Discovery Channel), Croc Week (Animal Planet), and Fitness Files (Discovery Health Channel).

      Field also hinted on future advertising revenue, with the possibility of allowing companies to have 30-second slots should a viewer click on the advertiser’s name. She was quick to point out that ITC rules stipulate that this must be “three clicks away” from the programme itself, while also adding that this part of the industry “is in its infancy”.

      There are also plans to expand this service outside of the United Kingdom, with Field saying, “It is most likely to be South Africa, Italy, Scandinavia or Australia.” However, she pointed out that the merger of Tele+ and Stream in Italy could change these plans.

      DNE launched the service with help from its partner NDS Group, using its Value@TV platform, that DNE says gives it “the flexibility to modify and expand” its enhanced TV programming.

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