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Interactive TV a step closer

PERTH-based Burdekin Pacific, formerly Burdekin Resources NL, is playing a major role in the first interactive television pilot in Australia due to an investment in ICE interactive. Burdekin is a 40 per cent shareholder in ICE with US based technology giants Liberate Technologies and Oracle Corporation

ICE is an applications developer for interactive television and supporting services. Broadcasters can buy applications or program enhancements from ICE and tailor programs to their viewers needs.

“We are working with the broadcasters to cross the bridge to an online environment,” Burdekin Pacific chairman Gino Vitale said.

ICE recently launched a community-based interactive television channel for the interactive television pilot in Orange, NSW.

Participants have access to information about local entertainment, movies, education, job seeking, first aid, local police and weekends away.

Chat sessions link to the community channel, allowing viewers to talk with the experts. The local vet and policeman, a Centerlink career adviser and a gardening expert conduct weekly chat sessions.

“We are bridging the digital divide, bringing people online who would otherwise not be there,” Mr Vitale said.

ICE has been commissioned by Win Television to build program enhancements for the premiere of an interactive travel program, City of Life - Hong Kong, as part of their Destinations series.

There are a number of proposed revenue models for ICE after the introduction of digital television.

“A lot of this is opt-in/opt-out technology,” Mr Vitale said.

Viewers will have the choice to click on screen and link through to a retail site, or more information.

In this way ICE could generate income by collecting a fee each time someone makes a purchase through these links.

Another model proposes ICE taking a percentage of the set up cost for each household. If a broadcaster charged a fee for a set top box and interactivity, a part of that charge could be collected as revenue, Mr Vitale said.

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