Digital interactive television



Digital Interactive Television (DiTV) is a system through which moving images and sound are broadcast and received. In contrast to analogue (traditional TV) the information is compressed into computerised binary information which takes up far less bandwidth allowing more channels to be broadcast, and allowing interaction via the ‘red button’ system.

Digital TV is an important method for ensuring that homes without internet access are able to interact with health information from their own living rooms. The use of Digital TV to reach excluded groups is the major benefit of the service, although the evidence for numbers actually interacting shows limited take-up. The service is currently slow and inflexible when compared to the internet and so seems likely to remain niche unless significant alterations to the present system are made- which is a possibility.

  • NHS Direct currently runs a Digital TV service providing access to health information in the home.
  • Using the Sky version you can search for local services by entering your postcode using your remote control and you are presented with local service information.
  • Pilots of booking GP services through the television are currently underway
Benefits and advantages
  • There is an opportunity to select personally relevant information through the interactive ‘red button’ service
  • Digital TV is considered important as a way of reaching into homes without internet access, often those from the C2,D,E social grouping.
  • Simplicity- interactive digital TV has an uncomplicated interface. Users are guided through a number of different decision pathways using a familiar tool, the remote control
  • The ability to create niche channels allows a more tailored and segmented approach to mass information provision
  • People can select the information most relevant to them by choosing from a menu of options using the remote control.

Risks and disadvantages

  • Many interviewees pointed out that Digital TV is slow compared to the Internet which may put people off accessing information through this method rather than via a website.
  • Actual participation in interactive services is currently fairly low, although more popular amongst younger age groups although we may see future increase in popularity.
  • People currently use their TV primarily for entertainment and not to seek information or interaction.




Armchair Involvement Guide 2009 

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