TV Future

Reporter: Andrea Burns

Imagine television where you, the viewer, have the option to change the plot, the ending - even the number of advertisements, in any programme. Sound good? Well, it's coming to a tv near you, according to Professor Duane Varan, from the Interactive Television Institute at Perth's Murdoch University.

He says “we can no longer assume that we can make people watch anything, it's the viewer who's now gaining control, gaining power” From a loungeroom setting, viewers get to watch programmes – everything from dramas, action adventures, documentaries, even childrens' shows . Professor Varan and his staff are then able to monitor viewers' physiological responses, to determine whether what they're watching is holding their attention.

With audiences in the billions, the Amercian CBS and NBC networks are among the institute's clients. Duane Varan says all the research is pointing one way for the time -poor, technology- rich, future - that the viewer will be king.He says “ We expect that the quality of service we receive at stores , at restaurants, we would expect that to improve, why would we not expect those same demands to be imposed on our television viewing.”

Pay TV's already giving viewers a taste of interactive tv - where the viewer determines not only what they want to watch, but even camera angles. Duane Varan says more choice means advertisers will also have to change, or we'll just turn them off.

“If you think that you can get your message across by machine gunning the audience with your message, I think that's a death to that model of advertising. I t's about working beccause viewers choose to watch the ad, rather than because they're forced to watch the ad.”

The Interactive Television Institute is regularly looking for people to be part of their TV Panel, giving opinions on programmes. To get involved, telephone 9360 7373, during business hours – or go to www.tvpanel.org