Specific text and/or graphic messages for individual subscribers or groups of subscribers are distributed on a communications network such as a cable television system. An addressable controller communicates with a plurality of subscriber terminals served by the network. Each subscriber terminal is assigned to a primary message group and may be assigned to one or more message subgroups. Messages are input to the addressable controller for subsequent transmission to a subscriber terminal for display. The messages are tagged with distribution data defining at least one primary message group or message subgroup to receive the message. The tagged text messages are transmitted over the network together with signals from network service providers. Global messages can be sent by leaving the distribution data field blank, or filling it with a special code such as a string of zeros. Wild card tags are also permitted. A subscriber terminal for receiving the messages has a first path for processing a service signal received from the network and a second path for processing a message signal received from the network. The distribution data is retrieved from a received message and used to determine if the message is targeted to the subscriber terminal. If so, the message is processed for display. The message can be displayed alone or overlaid on a video program signal being viewed.