The first annual Awards for Leadership in Interactive Television were presented at the National Show of the US cable industry. Among those recognised was Rupert Murdoch, Chairman of News Corporation, majority owner of BSkyB and NDS, whose platform has been one of the principal drivers of interactive television in the UK.

The awards were presented to pioneers of interactive television at an event attended by over 300 delegates, perhaps an indication of the US cable industry’s growing interest in interactive television.

Ironically for the audience at the national cable television convention, there has been almost unanimous agreement among observers that the acquisition by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation of a controlling stake in US satellite provider DIRECTV will significantly accelerate the roll-out of interactive television in America.

Others received recognition for their work in interface design, production, advertising and technology.

Awards were presented to Dale Herigstad and Rick Mandler, both regulars on the interactive television conference circuit, Tim Hanlon for work in evangelising interactive television to the advertising community, Vincent Dureau who has been the driving force behind the development of OpenTV software, Patrick Donoghue for his work at Cablevision, Rupert Murdoch who needs no introduction, and Dr Ecker of Scientific-Atlanta who pioneered many of the core standards-based systems for interactive television.

ITV Leadership awards

  • Dale Herigstad, Executive Creative Director, Schematic
  • Rick Mandler, Vice President & General Manager, ABC Enhanced TV
  • Tim Hanlon, Senior Vice President and Director of Emerging Contacts at Starcom MediaVest Group
  • Vincent Dureau, Chief Technology Officer, OpenTV
  • Patrick Donoghue, Vice President of ITV Development & Operations, Digital Product Group, Cablevision
  • Rupert Murdoch, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, News Corporation
  • Dr H Allen Ecker, Executive Vice President, Scientific-Atlanta

The awards were introduced by Tracy Swedlow, whose popular online newsletter has charted the development of interactive television for the last seven years. She explained that the awards were initiated because interactive television, following a long period of experimentation, is now moving into an era of deployment and accelerated development and the time was right to recognise the people who had struggled over the years to bring the medium to where it is today.

The recipients were chosen by an international panel of 26 judges from 160 nominees. The awards were presented by Shelly Palmer of the National Television Academy, Alison Dollar of the ITV Alliance, Marcia Zellers of the American Film Institute, Jeff Jay of Charter, Ed Burakowski of NDS, and Steve Heeb of Comcast.

Giving a keynote presentation, Steve Heeb outlined the progress that US cable companies are making in the deployment of interactive television and anticipated widespread development and deployment in the coming year. He called on the industry to improve user interfaces, stressed the importance of standards and called for more communication between operators, technologies and broadcasters. He concluded with a call for the cable industry to exploit the advantage that it enjoys, particularly in is return path capabilities, to lead the introduction of interactive television rather than wait for competition from the satellite industry to compel it to embrace the medium.