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Millions lose Ceefax as digital swtichover hits London

Mat Bettinson
Millions lose Ceefax as digital swtichover hits London

The pioneering teletext service Ceefax has been switched off for millions of television owners as analogue television is replaced with digital services in the London region.

The great analogue switch-off spells the end of the remarkably enduring blocky-text service as the more spectrum-efficient digital terrestrial television replaces analogue transmissions.

The digital conversion has been phased across the country and now with the greater London region making the switch, only a few areas remain with analogue service and hence the veritable old Ceefax, including Sussex, Kent and Northern Ireland.

There's been something of an outpouring of affection for the obsolete Ceefax, with a 'love letter' published by journalist Matthew Engel on the BBC News site, published to look exactly like a Ceefax page.

Hats off to the web team at the BBC for accomplishing the feat with HTML rather than using an image. We expect a good deal of BBC staffers are also feeling pretty nostalgic as the era three-decade era of teletext comes to a close.

Engel pointed out that Ceefax was good for several things including being quite fast, particularly for catching up on news in the morning.

"Ceefax was perfect for that job - press 101 for the news headlines, 201 for business, 301 for sport, 401 for the weather (I adored that weather map, made up of coloured spots, like a pointillist painting)," said Engel.

Of course Ceefax is neatly replaced with the more modern red button digital text service.

BBC News website editor Steve Herrman pointed out that it was "still produced by the editorial team which has long provided Ceefax and the BBC News website."

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Tags: tv, bbc, digital television

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