Two Way TV, which recently sold its Ark system to Virgin Media together with a content licensing deal, has been acquired by Ingenious Media Active Capital. The private equity arm of Ingenious Media is investing up to £5.34 million for a controlling stake in the company to build its production capabilities.

Jean de Fougerolles, the chief executive of London-based Two Way TV, told informitv the company would be focusing on developing interactive formats rather than selling technology, while exploiting its extensive experience in operating the necessary back end systems. It will be positioned as a production company and is looking for a number of television people to join the team.

Two Way TV will expand its creative and production teams to develop interactive entertainment programmes for mainstream broadcast networks. The company is opening a new office in Los Angeles to address the rapidly emerging market in the United States.

The move comes at a troubled time for participation television in the United Kingdom, with suggestions that viewers have been exploited by some votes and competitions.

Two Way, which has avoided involvement in such controversies, says that it will be providing formats that are fair and fun. “I don’t think call TV is fair or fun,” said Jean de Fougerolles. “We will be looking at things like real time live game shows.” He suggested that creating entertaining television was the most important thing, adding “broadcasters are interested in formats, not technology.”

Ingenious Media, also based in London, specialises in advising on and investing in media and entertainment companies. It is investing in Two Way as part of a portfolio approach. “We have been very interested in the participation TV space as it has become a permanent feature of the media landscape with broadcasters continuing to seek more innovative ways to enhance their programming and engage audiences through increasingly interactive content,” said Patrick McKenna, chairman of Ingenious Media, who was previously chairman and chief executive of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Really Useful Group.

“There is massive growth potential in this industry both in the UK and around the world, particularly in the US,” he said. “Two Way TV can bring both skill-based and gaming-based models to bear in this market and IMAC will actively seek synergies between Two Way TV and our other portfolio companies to realise that rich market potential.”

Sanjay Wadhwani, a director of Ingenious Ventures, which manages investments on behalf of Ingenious Media, will be joining the Two Way TV board as a non-executive director. A new non-executive chairman from Ingenious will be appointed. Jean de Fougerolles will remain as chief executive, with Guy Templer continuing as commercial director and James Turner as sales director.

Two Way TV is one of the pioneers of interactive television in Britain, literally going back to the Ark as a provider of technology to television companies and operating its own interactive services.