Dutch company TSS has come up with an innovative way of using teletext to provide interactive television services for users that have yet to switch to digital.

For many analogue viewers, teletext remains the nearest thing to interactive television. The Dutch company has developed an innovative way of using a standard teletext service to involve those viewers that have yet to move to digital television.

The system works by using standard teletext pages. Users enter the service by selecting the teletext option and entering a specific page number as usual. They are then invited to press red and respond to questions using the colour-coded buttons on their remote control.

It takes advantage of the red, green, yellow and blue ‘fastext’ navigation buttons that were introduced in the late eighties and are available on most modern teletext televisions. By transmitting certain teletext pages in close synchronisation with the broadcast, users are able to respond to multiple choice questions, effectively navigating through a sequence of pages during the programme.

The approach may not offer the sophistication of true interactive services, but it could offer a valuable way of reaching a wider audience.

Broadcasters that have invested heavily in interactive services may be reluctant to use such an approach, preferring to push their digital platforms, but it may offer a way of involving rather than alienating their analogue audience.

The approach has already been used successfully by Belgian broadcaster VRT to accompany over a hundred sports programmes.

The TSS system is an excellent example of lateral thinking. It is simply surprising that no-one seems to have thought of it before.