UK satellite broadcaster BSkyB is to release a software update that will provide an option to set interactive prompts to disappear after 30 seconds.

Sky set-top boxes will automatically receive the software update which includes a number of new features.

Subscribers will be able to suppress the on-screen interactive prompts that typically invite viewers to “press red” to access an interactive television application associated with the channel. With this setting, these “triggers” will automatically disappear after thirty seconds, although they will reappear on re-selecting the channel. This is the model employed by the BBC for its interactive services on the Freeview terrestrial platform.

On satellite, many broadcasters, including Sky, present interactive prompts throughout a programme or even permanently across a channel, although they can be removed by pressing the “back up” key.

Some users have complained about the persistent presence of on-screen graphics, and there have been concerns that they could even cause screen burn on some types of display. Users are also become so accustomed to the red button prompts that they are less effective as a call to action.

Other usability improvements in the new software release will include the ability to turn subtitles on or off without having to go through the system setup menu, and an option to highlight channels that offer subtitles or audio description. The update will also provide information about the current and following programme for radio stations and provide improved parental control facilities for channel blocking.