An interactive television system where interactive information is inserted in the vertical blanking interval of a standard television signal. The signal is received and decoded by a stetop decoder which sends the decoded signal via an infrared signal to a handheld device. The viewer using the handheld device can interact with a game, sports, or education event or other presentation on the television. The system includes a proprietary high level command language and programmer (PIU) tables which are maintained in the memory of the handheld device. The PIU tables store the transactions of the various events presented on the television. The transactions are sent from the insertion system to the decoder throughout the broadcast of the television program. Thus, for a sports event with interleaved commercials, one or more of the PIU tables would be used to store a collection of transactions used for the main event and one or more additional PIU tables are used for storing transactions for each of the interleaved commercials. This system allows a viewer to enter and exit any event at any time wit hot having to wait for information to be downloaded and without losing any scores. Further, the system allows the user to change from event to event such as, for example, by tuning to different stations and be able to immediately interact and have responses scored and stored.