U.S.-created interactive TV may debut in U.K.

An interactive TV system developed in the United States could debut in the U.K. as soon as this fall, allowing viewers to play along with gameshows on all major British TV channels.

Interactive Network Ltd., which has the exclusive European license to exploit technology developed by California’s Interactive Network Inc., announced it has secured initial funding from Rockefeller & Co., the investment arm of the Rockefeller family, and U.S. media analyst Paul Kagan.

This investment is “a substantial first step” toward the T16 million ($ 25 million) the company needs to launch a British service, according to INL co-founder Simon Cornwell. The rest of the money is being raised by Credit Lyonnais Securities.

INL is talking to all major British terrestrial and satellite broadcasters about coordinating its service with existing shows, and also about developing new shows with an interactive audience in mind.

The U.S. company Interactive Network Inc. is part-owned by NBC, United Artists, Cablevision Systems and A.C. Nielsen. The system has 3,300 subscribers in San Francisco’s Bay Area.

It allows information to be transmitted to the interactive subscriber’s TV screen via existing data broadcast channels alongside the conventional TV channels.

Viewers can then transmit responses to a set-top box, which relays them via phone to a central computer system. This in turn can send the results back to subscribers on the data channel.

The technology allows subscribers to compete for prizes in gameshows and sports events, vote for participants in televised contests, respond to market research questions or advertising, or make purchases from home.

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