A universal remote control device which is programmed to operate a variety of consumer products is disclosed. The device is connected over a bidirectional link to either a cable converter or a telephone interface for receiving programming information. A touch screen display is employed on the programmable remote control device for displaying icons of functions to be selected. By selecting a particular displayed icon, a command can be decoded and sent via an infrared link to one or more appliances. Infrared codes for operating a virtually unlimited number of devices can be supplied to the device over the bidirectional communications link. Further, a provision is provided to permit a telephone connection to be set up between the user's home and a facility advertising products or services over a cable television broadcast. The touch screen display will permit the actual display of these advertisements as messages received from the cable head end system. Orders may be placed from the universal remote control device based on these displayed advertisements.