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IDTV Sweeps Europe, Sets Its Sights on Interactive America

Aired March 31, 2000 - 2:41 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Using the Internet on your TV might seem like a natural partnership. So far, though, it hasn't happened in a big way here in the U.S. But in Europe, it's another story.

Here's CNN's Allison Tom.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ALLISON TOM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The future of e- commerce in Europe may lie more in the use of a remote control rather than a computer mouse. That's according to a leading independent research firm. It reports that interactive digital television, or IDTV, will become the main source for European e-commerce by 2005, more so than personal computers.

NEIL BRADFORD, FORRESTER RESEARCH: The big difference about interactive digital TV is you actually are reaching consumers where they're most comfortable. You're reaching them in their homes, in their living rooms, where they can actually use the TV for entertainment and then also go on to use interactive services.

TOM: Services like shopping, banking, e-mailing, and gaming. Right now, more than 200 million European households have a TV. Seven million of them have interactive digital television services. Forrester Research says IDTV has not yet reached households in the United States, but when it does, analysts say, it may be more of a challenge, since PC and Internet access in the U.S. are so affordable and so widespread.

KEVIN HAUSE, INTERNATIONAL DATA CORP.: The Internet is actually the primary and first interactive application, or platform, that we've seen over time. So I think that we're going to see a much more difficult time in the U.S. using the television, I should say, as a primary interactive tool.

TOM: But a new Internet TV initiative in Lagrange, Georgia, might change that. This U.S. city with a population of 27,000 will provide free Internet access to all cable television households.

MAYOR JEFF LUKKEN, LAGRANGE, GEORGIA: Everyone has a TV set. We'll be able to connect them to this high-speed Internet access. And once the community is online, connected, the benefits are huge across the entire community for all of us. TOM: The Internet TV initiative is currently being tested in some people's homes. The city plans to begin using the new system as early as the end of April.

Allison Tom, CNN.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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