Teletext shuts down service one month early

The digital publishing revolution claimed another victim today, with the closure of the Teletext information service on ITV, Channel 4 and Five.

The shut down had been announced earlier this year by owners Daily Mail and General Trust, but has come earlier than the initially scheduled January 2010 closure.

The news and information platform was launched 35 years ago as the cutting edge of technology. Today, it ceased running on ITV, Channel 4 and Five on analogue TV, along with ITV and Channel 4 on Sky and Freeview. All editorial services on Teletext Extra are also no longer available on Freeview and Freesat, although the popular Teletext Holidays will continue to run on Freeview channel 101.

Analogue Channel 4 will still carry the Teletext Racing and Bookmakers section so that viewers can access the latest racing news and results. Channel 4 viewers on Sky and Freesat will be able to access an analogue form of the service “in due course”.

With the advent of the internet and widespread uptake of broadband, the sometimes esoteric Teletext service long ago lost its status as the viewers’ first option for breaking stories, election results or sports news.

Despite revenues of £41 million in the last financial year, the service had made regular losses, despite job cuts and outsourcing of content in a bid to keep afloat, and was particularly badly hit by the downturn in advertising. The closure was moved forward to “allow the process to be as smooth as possible on all platforms, technically and operationally”.

Teletext’s competitor, BBC’s Ceefax, has been supplanted by the Red Button service on digital, while Ceefax itself will end when digital switchover is complete in 2012.

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