Headlines: January 28th, 2000

Public service TV will mean much more than the BBC and an annual licence fee in the future.The Government wants the whole public sector to be ready to tap into the opportunity digital TV offers both to open up services to everyone in society and to make them more convenient.

Proposals just announced ask every department, agency and local authority to identify which services could be delivered through this new technology.

A new advisory group of leading media and commercial companies has also been announced, which will work with Government to ensure new technology, including digital TV, will provide accessible, high quality and cost-effective public services to citizens.

Digital TV is set to become one of Britain’s most powerful and prevalent new media. The average adult already spends eight years of their life watching TV. At present, approximately 10 per cent of households in the UK have digital TV. It is predicted that this figure will rise to 76 per cent by 2008.

Possibilities could include using digital TV to get information on health, jobs and education, renew a driving licence, claim benefit or even vote.

The Digital TV guidelines have been produced by the Cabinet Office’s Central IT Unit and will form part of the Government’s first-ever Corporate IT Strategy. The guidelines have been endorsed by the Information Age Government Champions – 36 top-level officials across local and central government.