"Watch This Space" Goes On-Line With Pipex

PIPEX has joined forces with Channel Four to launch Watch This Space, the UK's first viewer controlled TV programme.

PIPEX has already installed an extra leased line connection to provide up to 128K capacity for the live 'TVNet' Bulletin Board System (BBS) for programme makers Hewland International via Online Entertainment (a PIPEX reseller), as well as space for the Watch This Space Home Pages on the PIPEX Worldserver, the largest commercial public file server in Europe."

Offering young audiences a weekly diet of current affairs, music, fashion, sports and even romance, Watch This Space invites viewers to adopt an interactive approach to the programme in a number of ways. The TVNet BBS provides a live online 'chat' facility during the show's broadcast live from a boat in East London. Viewers' comments are fed onto the screen via Teletext, who filter contributions for obscene or other volatile content.

A World Wide Web (WWW) bulletin board has also been set up on the PIPEX Worldserver to enable audiences to comment about the programme's content and its choice of music and guests on a weekly basis. Open to suggestions about future features, each week the bulletin board will also include the following week's agenda and an area in which viewers can leave their comments and suggestions.

According to Channel Four:

"Watch This Space is looking for as much audience participation and feedback as possible, thus making it a truly interactive and multimedia project."

"This is just the beginning. Every week we'll be offering a selection of stories. Via the Internet you can chose which ones you want us to report. We'll even be giving you the chance to gong off interviews that bore you; stop bands mid-song when you've heard enough; 'vision mix' bits of the show using your telephone from the comfort of your own home; and even create a new band."

"If you don't like our offerings, you can post your own ideas, comments and suggestions on our Home Pages on the World Wide Web at http://worldserver.pipex.com/wts/."

Viewers have already had their first taste of interactive TV when the Watch This Space: The Special went out on Sunday 23rd April and audiences were actually asked to 'hire or fire' the presenters. After three months of auditioning over 5,000 young people from all over the country, eight potential presenters were lined up from which viewers were invited to vote for their top four.

With a brand new line-up of presenters, Watch This Space will go out at 5.30pm every Sunday until 16th July on Channel Four.

Technical background

For non-Internet users the TVNet BBS is accessible either by dial-in to Online Entertainments modem banks in London, or via 'auto-telnet', a PIPEX service for resellers which permits dial-in to bulletin boards over the PIPEX Network Backbone and benefit from the local call access numbers provided on the PIPEX Dialup Network. Internet users can access TVNet via telnet at 'connect.on-line.co.uk' or via the WWW on the Watch This Space Home Pages. The programme's Web Pages were prepared by DRCI of Derby and have been allocated up to 50MB of disk space on the PIPEX Worldserver. Various innovative means of interacting with the programme are planned throughout the series.