The long-awaited launch of the Zip Television interactive advertising channel is threatened by last-minute contractual issues. Representatives of the Zip consortium are apparently engaged in urgent negotiations to resolve the matter before the service launches. This was originally scheduled for the start of July.

Zip TV has confirmed to informitv that so far only Channel Four has signed a contract with Zip and put in place the necessary processes to enable viewers of its digital channels to access interactive adverts running on Zip TV’s dedicated service.

Other sales houses, representing ITV, Flextech, UKTV and Sky Channels say that while they are committed to the concept they are concerned about potential liability issues.

BSkyB typically holds broadcasters liable for up to £25 million in potential damages for any outages arising from technical issues with interactive services.

Honda, the first advertiser to use the Zip TV channel, says emphatically it is committed to using the service, which is backed by other leading advertisers, together representing 40% of television airtime spend.

It is understood that a campaign from another consortium member is also being prepared and it is anticipated that each of the eleven members will produce at least one interactive promotion in the first year.

It is expected that Zip TV may launch with adverts carried on Channel Four until agreement can be reached with other broadcasters.

The interactive adverts will initially only be accessible where triggers are enabled on television commercials on other channels, but the consortium is also considering plans for the channel to be accessible directly through the electronic programme guide. This would potentially allow commercials or other advertiser funded material to be promoted through other media such as print, coupons or direct mail.

The Zip TV channel is being technically managed by DITG who hold the Application Signing Agreement with BSkyB and interactive applications are initially being authored using Emuse Modelstream.

The consortium was launched in response to a perceived lack of flexibility in the templated applications currently available through Sky.

Consortium members will share their experiences to benchmark the effectiveness of interactive advertising and explore new creative approaches.