Demand Control

Students at Ball State University in Indiana want you to take control of your local news broadcast -- by picking up your remote. About a dozen students from different disciplines are working with faculty and industry professionals to create an interactive TV news show. Using a remote and a split screen, viewers can skip ahead to different stories, access graphics and background stories related to the day's news, and answer polling questions. TiVo kicks in to catch the broadcast, and even the news crawl along the bottom can be rewound or fast-forwarded. The trend is in a nascent stage in Europe, used for voting on shows like "American Idol" and polling, but it can get much bigger, says Tim Pollard, associate professor of telecommunications at Ball State. "It's coming like a freight train, and everybody in the industry is trying to figure it out," he says. Ball State's "Interactive Television News Graphics" course culminated in a live, five-minute broadcast. For the broadcast, the students consulted with Dale Herigstad, executive creative director of Schematic, says Mike Bloxham, director of testing and assessment at Ball State's Center for Media Design. Next up, students will consider how to insert ads into a user-controlled broadcast. Bloxham says he hopes to generate objective case studies on the topic.

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