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WHS Signs Interactive Television Deal
Jean Richardson -- 1/31/00

British bookselling chain W.H. Smith announced a deal with U.K. cable TV operator Telewest to become a part of Active Digital, Telewest's new interactive TV service.

WHS Group chief executive Richard Handover said the new deal gives consumers the chance to buy the full range of WHS's inventory of books, CDs, videos and stationery from home at any time. Telewest subscribers receive a special black box that allows them to buy merchandise they see on TV via the Internet and offers other interactive capabilities. Viewers will be able to see full-motion video and animation as well as the standard graphic and text information, and WHS will create content for Telewest's education channel. The bookselling chain said that it plans to capture 30% of the online book market within the next three years. "Joining Telewest," said Handover, "will give us access to an estimated 500,000 new customers over the next year."

Active Digital is scheduled to be launched early this year and will be available to more than four million homes by the end of 2000. More than 15 leading retailers have joined the service so far and Telewest expects to sign up to 40 by the spring.

WHS already sells on the Open TV channel, launched in October, and hopes to do even better on Telewest.

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