01 September 1997

HEDGING ITS BETS that digital TV may spell the end of the Internet in its present form AOL, the UK arm of America Online, has confirmed it is in talks with British Interactive Broadcasting. Managing director Jonathan Bulkeley, presenting recently to ad agencies, argued that the Internet will remain the main delivery system for electronic branding in the medium term. But agency sharpies were sceptical: only digital TV could deliver a mass market for interactive services in the UK, they insisted. Like lightning, Jonathan U-turned: ‘AOL is not platform specific. If you asked whether we might do a deal with Sky/BIB, the answers is yes.’ Myer Berlow, a visiting fireman from AOL Stateside, came to Jonathan’s rescue: ‘In trials for interactive TV, the format hasn’t lived up to its promise’, he countered, adding that AOL’s peaktime ‘audience’ of 400,000 already matched the TV audience for cable stations such as CNN and MTV in the USA.