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HITS gets Liberated

Hoping to jump-start lagging interest in interactive television in the U.S., Liberate Technologies and AT&T's Headend In The Sky (HITS) satellite service have signed a multi-year agreement for delivery of ITV services to 140 U.S. cable operators by year-end.

Under terms of the deal, LiberateTV PlatformCompact software will run on 6 million Motorola DCT-2000 digital set-top boxes served by HITS and will be available system-wide in November. Work has begun on final technical integration into the HITS satellite broadcast center in Littleton, Colo.

Initial interactive content will include news and information services, an electronic program guide, and interactive games that don't require a two-way infrastructure or additional billing systems. The companies plan to offer two-way software upgrades next year, using the cable systems' backchannel infrastructure, to enable video-on-demand, interactive advertising and e-commerce.

Liberate recently completed a trial in Cheyenne, Wyo., with 50 AT&T Broadband cable customers, according to Charles Tritschler, vice president of marketing for Liberate. Further agreements with AT&T Broadband, which has experimented with Liberate and Microsoft's Ultimate TV software on the Motorola DCT-5000 advanced set-top box, could be in the works, he says.