Japan's Hitachi is developing a data broadcasting system that will automatically beam content such as films, music and restaurant information from a communications satellite to the internal hard drives of subscribers' dedicated digital receivers. Subscribers can then view the content at their leisure.

Hitachi is assembling a consortium of partners, including satellite broadcasters and leading electronics makers, to work on the project. The consortium will apply for a licence at the end of September, and, if successful, plan to start broadcasts in summer next year.

Hitachi has offered the HK Channel, a video and data service that transmits educational, medical and other content through telephone lines to digital subscribers, since 1998.