The UK's biggest commercial broadcaster, ITV, is jumping on the broadband TV bandwagon.

It has launched a three-month trial of local internet television in the southern coastal towns of Brighton and Hastings. The channels feature classified ads, a live stream containing news, weather, local films, an entertainment guide and community video. Viewers can also see clips of local programmes on-demand.

Says Lindsay Charlton, managing director of ITV's Meridian region: "The rapid advance in the number of broadband homes in the UK, combined with improvements in streaming technology, has transformed the opportunities for local broadcasting."

Significantly, for ITV, which is facing erosion of its core spot advertising revenue as TV audiences fragment - a broadband service opens up a huge potential new market.

Small, local businesses can use it to promote themselves, while advertising by multinationals can target tightly defined demographic groups.

Industry experts say that, within five years, many UK households will have both a conventional broadcast signal and TV via a broadband connection.

Data sourced from BBC Online; additional content by WARC staff