At last, television you can really relate to. It's not just a remote idea, according to New York City's ACTV, which began test-marketing its interactive TV system on U.S. cable last fall. The company's patented system allows viewers to virtually direct a broadcast with their remote controls: they can change camera angles while watching sports, play blackjack with an on-screen dealer, and even talk to Big Bird on Sesame Street. Already installed in 70,000 homes in Montreal, ACTV is scheduled to be introduced in the United States this year. So far, ABC and NBC have signaled their interest, says founder Michael Freeman. And major advertisers welcome the prospect of interactive ads' allowing them to target specific audiences. But a rollout awaits expanded programming and cable agreements.

-- Anne Murphy