Japan starts first bidirectional TV service

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TOKYO -- Tokyo Television Channel 12 will begin bidirectional TV broadcasting - branded Intertext (IT) - every Saturday evening from this October. It will be the system's Japanese debut.

A 30 minute program - that could feature anything from golf tournaments (complete with map and scoreboard information) to quiz games - will allow those with IT sets to participate by pressing buttons to access different details or answer quiz questions, for example.

Plans are ultimately for TV ads to be shown on one half of the screen and home shopping details - with the chance to buy directly via a remote control box - on the other half. Viewers can also watch the IT broadcast alone, at a different time from the corresponding TV program.

Toshiba is to start selling the IT TVs this month, for about the same price as conventional sets, with other firms such as Sony and Matsushita due to follow suit.

Intertext is similar to teletext broadcasting which started 10 years ago, but is different in that it is two-way communication and pictures can be sent in addition to characters. Its operation is also easier than teletext broadcasting. The TV station is connected to homes by telephone line, and viewers are sent information as they demand it via a remote control unit.

Copyright September 1996, Crain Communications Inc.

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