Headlines: December 3rd, 1999

Every Government agency, department and local authority has been asked to examine which services might in the future be delivered through digital television.The Cabinet Office has issued the guideline, for consultation, in the hope of encouraging the public sector to be ahead of the game with the latest technology.

Digital TV has the potential to eclipse the attention and effort currently being directed at the Internet.

Television is already established as the most popular form of public communication, with the average adult spending eight years of their life watching its screen.

Digital TV has the power to transform this communication, giving citizens access public services. Possible options could include getting information on health and education, renewing a driving licence, claiming benefit or even voting.

At present, approximately 10 per cent of households in the UK have digital TV. It is predicted that this figure will rise to 47 per cent by 2003 and 76 per cent by 2008.

Those who have already used a screen to involve the public have been praised by the Cabinet Office. These include kiosks in Newcastle-upon-Tyne which provide information about council and other local services, such as benefits and tourism, Lewisham, where people can now claim income support and housing benefit on an electronic claim form, and Knowsley, which offers a wide range of electronic services from notification of housing repairs to a state of the art ‘electronic’ library service.