THE BBC Red Button text service, which replaced Ceefax, is due to close tomorrow, despite a petition demanding its continuation and concerns expressed over the loss of a "vital" lifeline for some of the most vulnerable members of society.

The Red Button?

It launched initially as BBC Text and was a replacement for the old teletext information service, Ceefax. In 2008, it was rebranded as the BBC Red Button, which refers to the colour of button on the remote used to launch the service.

It offers?

Digital interactive TV services. The red button can be pressed at any time although sometimes, an announcement during a programme or the appearance of a red button logo in the top right hand corner of the TV screen prompts viewers to press it. It enables viewers to access additional TV programming, live coverage from major sporting and cultural events.

This will continue?

The video aspect, that offers additional matches on other courts at Wimbledon or performances on other stages at Glastonbury, for example, is due to carry on.


The text services that offers sports scores, lottery and weather information and also breaking national and international news, in the tradition that Ceefax began in 1974, is closing tomorrow.

The problem?

The BBC say that a decade ago, the service was used by about 12 million people per week, five million of whom did not have online access.

But amid the rise of the smartphone, most people now access their news on their mobile, if not on their computer or tablet. Meanwhile, the service costs around £39 million to run per year at a time when the BBC is looking to make massive savings.

There are concerns, though?

The National Federation of the Blind of the UK (NFBUK) are so concerned, they have launched a "Save the BBC Red Button Teletext Service" campaign, saying that the service is "vital for visually impaired, deaf, disabled and older people, as well as many other people who want to find out information independently in an easy, convenient and accessible format, who are not online”.

The organisation expressed concern that the withdrawal will “leave many people, who are already vulnerable, further isolated and marginalised from society”.

There’s a petition?

Along with the British Deaf Association (BDA), the bodies submitted a petition to the BBC this week to "stop the switch off". Damian Collins, the MP for Folkestone, has also written to the Director General Lord Hall asking “to pause decision until I get the chance to meet him and campaigners”.

It’s unlikely to have an impact?

The BBC said: “We want everyone to be able to use the BBC’s services and enjoy our content, but financial pressures and the continued need to spend the licence fee as effectively as possible mean we sometimes need to make difficult decisions.

“Unfortunately, to keep red button text services would require significant technical effort and cost, and would come at the expense of investing in other services.”