Rogers bows Enhanced TV

Service gives digital customers extra information while watching the tube

TORONTO — Canada’s largest cabler, Rogers Cable, on Monday launched Enhanced TV, an interactive service giving digital customers extra information while watching the tube.

“This is the beginning of a new era of interactive television,” Rogers prexy and CEO John Tory said.

Company has invested C$1.5 billion ($96 million) over five years to upgrade the cable system to carry a digital signal, a prerequisite for Enhanced TV.

However, John Grandy, telecommunications analyst for Yorkton Securities in Toronto, said: “The industry’s going in this direction, but there’s going to be huge problems. Nobody knows what the standards are going to be.”

Unlike the cabler’s existing interactive TV service, Enhanced TV is available to all its 240,000 digital customers at no extra cost. During specific “enhanced” programs or commercials, an icon appears on the screen that viewers can click using their remote for extra background or product information.

Enhanced TV will be available immediately on CNN, CNN Headline News and CNBC. Some programs carried on TBS, NBC, CBS and Fox, as well as some advertisers, are also enhanced.

Rogers is working to launch enhanced Canuck programs before year’s end. The service is already available in 5 million households in the U.S.

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