Teletext news to disappear from TV screens next year

Daily Mail and General Trust has announced it will switch off the Teletext news service next January – two years earlier than originally planned.

The publisher today blamed the growth of the internet and a lack of regulatory support from Ofcom for the decision to prematurely cease transmission after 17 years.

DMGT has entered into a period of consultation with 70 staff working on the service, which is available on ITV, Channel 4 and Five.

Teletext will continue to provide holiday listings and other commercial features and the group’s associated websites, including teletextholidays.co.uk, will continue to operate.

In a statement, the company said the current economic conditions had accelerated the decline of the service. It made a £3m operating loss in the six months to the end of March.

Teletext group managing director Mike Stewart said: “We investigated and researched every means to keep the news service going, but in the end we couldn’t find a viable option.

“The Teletext television text and editorial service has made an important contribution to the widespread delivery of a free, up-to-date, high quality news and information service.

“For years, along with its counterpart on the publicly funded BBC, it was, for many, the only source of reliable, thoroughly up-to-date and constantly available news.

“However, there are now a wide range of other public sources available for the latest news and information, including the internet and 24-hour news channels.”

DMGT said in a separate statement: “As anticipated, the continued fragmentation of television audiences and the growth in the use of the internet has resulted in a significant reduction in the audience and volume of commercial activity generated by the television services.

“In addition, Ofcom has indicated that it is not persuaded of the need for public intervention in the delivery of a public commercial Teletext service beyond 2014 and this has also contributed to the decision to discontinue the public service.”

In a major review of the future of public service broadcasting, published in January, broadcasting regulator Ofcom questioned Teletext’s future as public service broadcaster and suggested it could continue as a purely commercial provider.

Ofcom was warned by its advisory committee for older and disabled people that letting Teletext die would have a severe impact on the ability of deaf and hard-of-hearing people to get news and regional information.

The regulator gave Teletext permission to make cutbacks to its regional news service to take into account the changes to the ITV news regions.

It also cut its national news section from 30 pages to 20 and outsourced more of its editorial work to the Press Association in Howden, East Yorkshire.

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