Toshiba to sell 2-way interactive TV

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TOKYO--Toshiba Corp. will launch Japan's first two-way interactive TV set in October 1996. Matsushita and Sony will soon detail their launch plans. The Toshiba set will be priced $185-$278 higher than current TV sets capable of receiving teletext broadcasts.

Japanese commercial TV stations plan to start interactive TV broadcasts starting in autumn 1996. A group including Matsushita, Toshiba, Sony, Japan's largest telephone company NTT and several advertising agencies has established Intertext Consortium, which is promoting the interactive TV system in Japan. A total of 53 companies are in the consortium so far.

Japan's existing broadcasting system is being adapted for an interactive TV system. The new interactive TV system utilizes data codes left unused in current TV signals to carry additional information. Standard telephone lines are used to enable viewers to interact with the TV channels.

TV home shopping is among the services to be provided by the new service. Viewers can received detailed product information and place orders. Viewers can easily participate in TV programs such as quiz shows by using the TV remote control. They can also take part in opinion polls.

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