Broadcasters including BSkyB and NTL are launching an initiative under the working title AdCo that is aimed at tackling the thorny issue of interactive TV advertising, according to a number of industry sources.
Telewest is also understood to be involved with AdCo, which is expected to work towards building a model for the format of interactive TV ads as well as drawing up revenue structure guidelines.
Although a number of interactive production agencies have created industry bodies, such as the Interactive Forum and the Interactive Advertising Association (ITVAA), this is the first project of this kind to be undertaken by the broadcasters themselves.
Although BSkyB said the talks are still at an informal stage, an industry insider said: 'Players in the UK digital TV industry are informally exploring ways to enable basic functionality for interactive ads and for them to be easily sold and understood across all platforms, especially in ways that will ensure that the customer is protected.'
The IPA and ISBA are also believed to have been approached about AdCo, which is being shrouded in secrecy by its founders. A source at the IPA said: 'The market is so new and everyone is keen that it develops with trading standards that suit all of the partners concerned.'
BSkyB is the only broadcaster that enables customers to interact with broadcast advertising, and only through a limited number of its channels. Similar functionality is expected from NTL, Telewest and ONdigital in the near future. BSkyB's interactive TV service, Open, is based on its own propriety technology, so content formatted for this service has to be recreated to fit other interactive TV services.