Verizon to Offer Interactive Text Messaging To Broadcasters

For those reality TV mavens feeling slighted because Jeanne Hebert was cast off Survivor's Amazon adventure, new technology might arise down the road so viewers could add in their two cents. Verizon Wireless has assigned text messaging service short-codecs so TV audiences can interact with programs through live voting on game shows, reality TV shows, sporting events, contests, opinion polls and other programs.

Verizon, which says it is the first U.S. wireless service provider to provide the service, has designated five-digit codes to nine national and cable networks so that viewers can send a text message from their phone to the network using the code. The networks are NBC, Fox, CBS, ABC, WB, UPN, CNN and ESPN.

"There is a major opportunity for media companies to use text messaging to promote active viewership with their television programming," said Jim Straight, Verizon's VP of wireless data and Internet services, who also is "confident" that other U.S. carriers will join them. Verizon's TXT messaging service grew 700 percent in 2002 and the company recently established a service for customers to participate in their favorite programs using the service.