BBC – The Editors: Goodbye Ceefax

Screenshot of Ceefax

Ceefax – the BBC’s teletext service – finally ends its long career tonight when it is due to be switched off at 23:30 BST. There is more on this, and the history of the service, in our news story today and linked coverage.

As each part of the UK has in turn gone through the switchover to digital and lost the Ceefax service in the process, it has been a long farewell, which I have written about here before.

Now, with the analogue TV signal in Northern Ireland being switched off, the last stage in the process has arrived, and the service will come to an end.

The BBC Red Button services will carry on the Ceefax tradition of providing clear and concise news from around the UK and the world, on demand, on your TV.

Indeed the Red Button service is in the process of being reinvented for internet-enabled TV sets, and this “Connected Red Button” service will combine the simplicity of traditional Red Button with the flexibility and depth of online. My colleague Daniel Danker has written about this work here and there is already a BBC News app for connected TVs which I wrote about here and here when it launched.

At its peak, Ceefax had an audience of some 20 million viewers a week, and as the end of the service has approached, it has received several thousand letters and emails of thanks from viewers.

In a tribute to the clarity of Ceefax’s simple, concise format and news stories, and to mark Ceefax’s last day, the Plain English Campaign – which campaigns for clear, concise language in public information – has given Ceefax a lifetime achievement award.

It’s an honour to have received so many tributes from Ceefax viewers, and to get this award, and both are a recognition of the skill and dedication of all the journalists who have worked on the service over the years, and the care they have taken in writing every story.

Steve Herrmann is editor of the BBC News website.

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