Canadians paid to watch TV

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MONTREAL--A loyalty program has been launched in Canada aimed at encouraging TV watching.

Interactive Cyber Television (ICTV), will reward frequent viewers of TV with cash, trips, e-coupons and even points to build a bank credit line. The product involves a stand-alone unit that ties SmartCard technology to TV without the use of a TV set-top box.

Using a Cashfinger remote control containing an IC-CashCard smart card, the viewer of TV shows and commercials wins points by answering questions or noting specific symbols on the screen. They can use the redeemed points in several ways -- even to get cash in return from ATMs.

Montreal English-language TV station CFCF-12 is expected to be the first to get on board with the program early in year 2000. ICTV is also talking with other WIC-owned stations.

ICTV offers marketers the opportunity to have questions or symbols inserted into the programs they sponsor or even into their commercials themselves, thereby building forced tuning. It also offers such opportunities as demographic studies, direct marketing and focus groups.

The card will be available at various outlets and through magazines. An IC-SmartPocket, a small weekly flyer that fits around the IC-CashCard before it is inserted in the remote control, lists the interactive shows to watch that week or whatever time frame the sponsors and broadcasters specify.

Prior to the remote control introduction, CFCF-12 and ICTV willlaunch a Webzine CD-ROM, which will initiate viewers on how to accumulate points, with a simplified version allowing the actual compilation of points through some TV shows and games.

ICTV's developers hope to launch across Canada within a year and then to take the product worldwide.

Copyright June 1999, Crain Communications Inc.

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