Teletext on ITV

Published on 6 June 2005 in , , ,

Today saw the end of one of the great usability problems of digital text. Yes, you can now press the TEXT button on ITV1 and something actually happens.

Until now Teletext had only been available on channel 9. The reason for this is actually logical. Honest.

Ultimatly it boils comes down to the fact that Teletext and ITV are separate legal entities, although many people would never have known. For those not in the know about how UK television works, they just assume that because pressing TEXT on analogue ITV1 gives you Teletext, the two are related, or that Teletext pay ITV to be there.

Of course they don’t – the two are separate entities, licensed by (now) Ofcom. One is a TV service, one a data service. So when digital television was first mooted, it no doubt made sense to the powers that be, to split them apart. There’s no logical reason why pressing text on ITV should bring up Teletext, when in the new world order, Teletext can have it’s own channel number. And ultimatly, if it so desired, the ITV companies could have their own competiting text service.

But that ignored 30 odd years of prior knowledge. That people had got used to entering Teletext from ITV in the analogue world, and couldn’t understand why it didn’t happen in the digital one – especially when it all worked on the BBC channels on digital. It also didn’t help Teletext themselves, who suddenly found that many people returned back to analogue, or even stopped accessing the service full stop. Hence why the company started the ball rolling in 2003 when they lauched Teletext on 4.

And today, the next step. Pressing TEXT on ITV1 now works. It may look a bit different to the analogue version, but at least it works. Which just leaves Five as the only terrestrial channel which is textless in the digital world.