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Television The Internet Science

BBC Turns Off CEEFAX Service After 38 Years 160

Kittenman writes "After 38 years (1974 - 2012) the BBC's CEEFAX service has ceased transmission. The service gave on-line up-to-date textual information (albeit in condensed form) to TV viewers in the pre-Internet era and afterwards. Its final broadcast signed off with, 'Goodbye, cruel world.' '... the real impetus for viewers came when BBC Television decided to use a selection of Ceefax pages, accompanied by music, before the start of programming each day. Initially called Ceefax AM and Ceefax In Vision, the Pages From Ceefax "programme" continued for 30 years, being broadcast overnight on BBC Two until this week. As viewers got a small taste of what Ceefax had to offer, millions of Britons during the 1980s invested in new teletext-enabled TV sets which gave them access to the full Ceefax service, which by now included recipe details for dishes prepared on BBC cookery shows, share prices, music reviews and an annual advent calendar.' An British ex-PM (John Major) said, 'From breaking global news to domestic sports news, Ceefax was speedy, accurate and indispensable. It can be proud of its record.'"
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BBC Turns Off CEEFAX Service After 38 Years

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  • Re:I'm not British (Score:3, Interesting)

    by scsirob ( 246572 ) on Wednesday October 24, 2012 @03:19AM (#41749267)

    Several countries still offer this service under various names. In The Netherlands it is called "Teletekst" and besides being available on the TV set, you can also find it online: []

  • by Chrisq ( 894406 ) on Wednesday October 24, 2012 @03:21AM (#41749273)
    I remember our first Ceefax set. It seemed magical having all that information at hand, waiting with anticipation as the page numbers rolled round to the one you selected. And there were the Ceefax subtitles - some of which added extra humour. I was tipped off on the subtitles on "Rab C Nesbit", which would translate Rab's colloquial Glaswegian into really pretentious English, including the odd "old chap", but would then translate a rather snobbish Englishman into Glaswegian. (Some English viewers actually needed the subtitles to understand the Glaswegian accent, so this was a joke on them).
  • Re:I'm not British (Score:4, Interesting)

    by TomC2 ( 755722 ) on Wednesday October 24, 2012 @03:44AM (#41749371)

    I personally think it is not that the technology of Ceefax has finished, it is more the content. Digital Terrestrial TV services in the UK also offer various text-based services in a much more modern interface, however, there is just not the same quantity of content that Ceefax carried. Ceefax was a bit like a condensed newspaper, whereas the current "Red button" services are more like just the front page of a newspaper. But then again, if you are receiving BBC digital transmissions you also have access to far more channels than when Ceefax was launched, including a 24-hour news channel, so maybe it is not necessary. But for me what is more telling is the BBC have not thought it necessary to completely migrate the Ceefax levels of content onto the digital "red button" services. There was nothing on there that nowadays could not be found on the internet, after all.

  • Re:I'm not British (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 24, 2012 @04:35AM (#41749595)

    As a British citizen you may not know that "using the red button" activates a feature in your digital receiver that is only
    available in receivers sold to UK customers. What we buy in the rest of the world does not have that function.
    We can receive teletekst and DVB subtitling, but not "the red button" services.

  • by RoboJ1M ( 992925 ) on Wednesday October 24, 2012 @09:04AM (#41750945)

    Yeah I hate it when they do that. Not only was it digital, it was interactive as well.

    Fast-text (the coloured buttons) even gave you hyper links.

    Hell, you could download software to your home computer over it!

    There were digital publications (Digitizer!! 8D)

    There were interactive games (Bamboozle!)

    There was even at one point a chat room (You had to phone up and type in your message using, I think, SMS style text input)

    Finally, I remember voice controlled teletext. You phoned up, set it up, browsed to one of the sub pages, spoke into the phone and the right page turned up on the screen.

    All that by the early 90s.

Nothing is finished until the paperwork is done.