The date was set – Teletext, the digital medium often seen as the spiritual successor to the Internet, would be switched off along with the analogue signal in 2012.
But now that date has been brought forward two years thanks to poor financial performance, possibly caused by the rise of the Internet.
In the next few years, analogue television will be phased out as one by one, the old transmitters are switched off. A campaign to ensure people are aware of this has been in force for a good while now, and OAPs have been able to claim a Freeview set top box free of charge. Unfair, I want my MTV! Well, maybe not as MTV has never been on free-to-air television.
Worse still, we now have to put up with this ‘interactive television’ thing. Now, I will concede that it does have its plus points and has improved markedly since its early days, but it has some major flaws.
The most annoying of these is the fact you can no longer go directly to a specific Teletext page. For example, if I wanted to see how the England cricket team were doing, I would punch up page 341 on Ceefax, but if I do the same on BBCi, I get the ‘page not found’ message. The page does exist, but I have to go through an extra menu to find it, wasting precious battery juice and increasing the risk of RSI. Please fix this now, BBC.
Technical issues aside, I miss the old pixellated aesthetic. Everything on interactive is clean cut and of photo quality, sometimes to the detriment of loading times.
But I miss the old teletext weather maps of Britain, Bamber Boozler’s blocky face and the cruddy flashing advertisements. Yes, I never thought I would miss those, but I do.
Maybe it’s a bit like losing a beloved pet that you’ve grown up with, through good times and bad. You think it’ll always be there, but sadly it does have to end. Teletext has far outlived arcade video games, numerous game consoles and other associated electronic media of its time to still be with us today… just about.
It’s a British institution that many will be sad to see the back of. Will interactive TV fill the void? Probably never.