Headlines: March 15th, 2002

UK Online, the Internet portal for government services, will soon be accessible through digital TV sets in the home. A successful pilot project with Sky Active, using their Interactive Advertising Browser, showed that the technical problems could be overcome. The new service, which is planned to involve Sky, NTL, Telewest and ITV Digital, should go live before the end of next month. The aim is to make UK Online available through kiosks and mobile phones as well as TV sets. Kiosk access is particularly important because it will boost the one stop shop trial where post offices throughout Leicestershire are piloting local and national government services access.TV is already the most popular public communication medium. Over 97% of UK homes have at least one TV set and the average adult will spend eight years of their life watching its screen. The greatest potential strategic benefit lies in the opportunity it offers for the convergence of the TV and IT worlds by extending beyond pure broadcasting into two-way interactive communication. The TV set could become the PC of the future.

Potential public sector applications for digital TV include providing a new and more interactive ways of making information accessible to the citizen, such as medical advice or educational programming. They extend to a channel for seeking public views and supporting the use of ‘e-forms’ for a wide variety of transactions such as renewing a driving licence or claiming benefit.