Headlines: April 1st, 2004

Digital TV is increasingly seen as the most effective way of ensuring that the gap between the information rich and the information poor is bridged and that people are not disadvantaged because they do not have access to the Internet. Over half the UK population use the Internet but only 10% of the lowest income group are online, compared to 82% in the highest income group. There is also an age divide with 94% of 16-24 year olds on line compared to 17% of those over 65.Wider use of computers is unlikely to deliver the Government’s commitment to bridge the digital divide, particularly as far as the elderly and those with disabilities is concerned. The Office of the Deputy prime Minister is promoting the use of digital TV and the market suppliers are positioning for the development. The latest move is a partnership framework agreement between ITNET, a leading IT business consulting and business process outsourcing company and iPublic, a division of Yoomedia plc, which focuses on delivering interactive digital television and wireless solutions for the public sector. The two companies will also jointly bid and deliver IDTV solutions for local government projects.

There will be early discussions with local authorities about the potential ways they could reach local citizens. It is likely that there will be a focus on education, the environment and services to reach young people and the elderly. The services could include giving parents the opportunity to apply for a school place though digital TV, allowing people to access community based information and to report problems such as pot holes and broken street lights.