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Zenith And PBS Deploy Interactive DTV Boxes

LINCOLNSHIRE, ILL. -Zenith Electronics has deployed datacast-enabled digital television set-top boxes in five cities for an interactive television service test it is conducting in cooperation with the Public Broadcasting Service.

The DTV boxes, model ADS-2001, are designed to receive and decode off-air DTV broadcasts, along with interactive TV enhancements using the Advanced Television Enhancement Forum (ATVEF) specification. The PBS Network began transmitting special data-enhanced content along with video programming in four episodes of the Scientific American Frontiers that started with The Bionic Body on March 27.

Boxes were deployed in test households served by NJN (New Jersey), MPBC (Lewiston, Maine), TPT (St. Paul/Minneapolis), WHYY (Philadelphia) and KQED (San Francisco).

The boxes will receive the over-the-air DTV broadcast signals, display the program information and user-viewable enhancement information, and store the program enhancements for the viewer’s use during the program or at a later time.

Each episode of the PBS show incorporates enhanced streams of additional text and graphical information about the program. The data is sent out via satellite through PBS to member stations, and additional enhancements, customized to local audiences are inserted into the broadcasts of each station that transmits the signal using the Zenith-developed 8-VSB modulation format.

A Zenith spokesman said the company has no plan to market the boxes through retail this year.