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Interactivity pioneer Vidéotron stays at the cutting edge with illico service digital service

Montréal, September 2nd, 2004 - Vidéotron, Québec’s interactivity pioneer, has announced that it has completed the upgrade of its illico digital set-top boxes to provide access to an unparalleled line of flexible, user-friendly interactive services through a single terminal. Unlike most competitive services, the majority of illico digital services are free of charge and it is not necessary to replace the set-top box or buy a new one.

Vidéotron is able to deliver true interactivity due to its robust network and technology from BlueStreak Technology Inc., a developer of software that supports the latestgeneration interactive content and a leader in media solutions for cable television, cellular telephones and other communication environments.. Vidéotron’s illico service posted the strongest performance in the Canadian television-distribution industry during the first half of 2004, with in the number of customers for digital services growing from 239,000 in January to 287,000 at the end of June.

BACKGROUND
On September 25, 2001, with more than 15 years of experience in hi-tech R&D behind it, Vidéotron launched illico interactive television on its digital service, and on April 16, 2003 it made Video on Demand available on its illico digital platform. But as early as 1989, Vidéotron had begun marketing a one-way interactive television service which let users switch between TV mode and telematic mode with the remote.

USING ILLICO DIGITAL SERVICE IS EASY AS PIE
Pressing the A button (yellow triangle) on the illico remote brings up the one-stop welcome screen, from which users can select all the categories of interactive services offered exclusively by Vidéotron and view a tickertape showing what’s new on illico.

DESCRIPTIONS OF MOST POPULAR ILLICO DIGITAL SERVICES

  • illico on demand – Video on Demand, launched one year ago, lets customers order from a selection of more than 500 titles and watch them in the comfort of their own homes. The high value added service is supported by Vidéotron’s unique, technologically powerful two-way HFC (hybrid fibre/coax) broadband network and its illico digital platform. Subscribers can order a film and watch it at the time of their choosing and at their own pace; they can pause, rewind, fast forward or stop andcontinue watching later, as with a VCR or DVD. illico on demand delivers DVDquality picture and sound.

Since May 13, 2004, subscribers to the Super Écran sur demande service, supported by illico digital, can order hit Québec, American and foreign movies, uncut, commercial-free and in French, and watch them at the time of their choosing. They can view a film as many times as they wish as long as it remains on the Super Écran sur demande menu.

  • Show Finder – With more than 265 channels available on the illico digital line-up, navigating the schedule can be confusing. The Show Finder is an exclusive valueadded service that lets subscribers do keyword searches to quickly find the shows they’re interested in.
  • E-mail – Users can send e-mail anywhere in the world using their illico keyboard, while continuing to watch their favourite television program in picture-in-picture mode. A new version, to be released soon, will make it possible to read e-mails received at an Internet inbox on the television screen and vice versa.
  • Chat – Users can chat with other illico subscribers using the illico keyboard.
  • Interactivity – This exclusive illico digital service offers more than 20 interactive programs per week. Customers can interact with their favourite television programs, enter contests, express their opinions or get more information on a show. This fall, they will be able to vote on the eagerly anticipated program Pour le meilleur et pour le pire.
  • LCN interactif – This service, available on the Interactivity menu, allows users view headline news when they wish while continuing to watch television in picture-inpicture mode. Users can also view lottery results, stock prices and the weather report.
  • Canoe TV – This popular, high-traffic portal offers an array of sections providing information: local, regional and international news, sports and culture. The last channel selected remains on the screen in picture-in-picture mode while users are navigating Canoe TV. It is possible to change channels using the remote.
  • Games – There are currently 11 games on the menu: Magnetrix, Tale of Tiles, Cross Words, Backgammon, Cannonball (free for the Easy Level), Kid’s Paint, Memory, Solitaire, Spades and Blackjack. The menu will be expanded to 14 selections by Christmas. Vidéotron is working on a networked games project which will eenab users chat and play with other users.
  • Free weather report – Information directly from The Weather Network, including the hourly temperature reading from the local observation centre and the three-day forecast. It is also possible to get weather reports for other regions.

The above list of illico services is not exhaustive. It is possible to access many other exclusive services from the welcome screen, including Choose your channels, which lets subscribers to illico à la carte packages change their channel selections directly from the set-top box, and Movie Suggestions, which serves up customized film recommendations to movie buffs based on the personal profile they have created. Full listings of movies showing on television and in the theatres are also available on illico.

The illico digital service, the gateway to a unique world of entertainment offerings, demonstrates Vidéotron’s high-tech leadership. With its multitude of exclusive, flexible, user-friendly services featuring DVD-quality picture and sound, in most cases free of charge. Vidéotron is the only company that delivers true interactivity.

Vidéotron ltée (www.videotron.com), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Quebecor Media Inc., is an integrated communications company engaged in cable television, interactive multimedia development and Internet access services. Vidéotron is a leader in newtechnologies with its illico interactive television system and its broadband network, which supports high-speed cable Internet access, analog and digital cable television, and other services. Vidéotron serves 1,429,000 cable television customers in Québec; including over 287,000 illico subscribers. Vidéotron is also the Québec leader in high-speed cable Internet access, with more than 473,000 subscribers to its cable modem and dial-up services.


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