Interactive TV put on trial in 'world first'

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 12 June, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 12 June, 1997, 12:00am

Couch potatoes will soon be able to hire a video, do the shopping, go to the bank and watch a concert - without moving anything more than their wrist on the television remote control.

A trial run of what is believed to be the world's first interactive TV service will be launched in Hong Kong on July 14, sources revealed yesterday.

Interactive TV (iTV) will be available in Kornhill, Kornhill Garden, Heng Fa Chuen, City Garden and Lei King Wan in October.

Viewers will be able to call up a blockbuster, order the weekly groceries from Wellcome, spin the latest pop hit or transfer money between bank accounts.

The service, developed by Internet provider Hong Kong Telecom IMS, went on show yesterday at the first Hong Kong International Film Market.

'All you need is a telephone line, a 'smartbox', which is a decoder, a TV and a remote control,' a spokesman said.

Customers selecting a video on demand are asked first to choose a category of film. A range of titles is offered for between $20 and $30, and previews are free. The viewer then uses the remote control to operate the movie as if it were a normal video.

Users will also be able to shop from the screen by summoning details of everything from cat food to caviar, then entering them on a shopping list. Door-to-door deliveries are expected to be made the following day.

A 24-hour fashion channel - MTV for glamour addicts - will be available in Hong Kong by the end of the week.

The territory is the first city in Asia to get Fashion.TV, which was launched in France last month and already claims to reach tens of millions of viewers from Iceland to the Middle East.

Fashion.TV, which cost US$20 million (HK$154.6 million) to set up, is also trying to enter Shanghai.


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