Teletext to close down TV services

Teletext Limited is to switch off its news and information service, available on analogue and digital television, in January 2010.

Teletext

The move comes following a comprehensive review of the business by the senior management of the DMGT-owned service. The decision will see up to 70 people made redundant.

Teletext’s Holidays and other commercial services on Freeview channels 101 – 107 will continue to broadcast.

The group’s travel websites, TeletextHolidays.co.uk, Thisistravel.co.uk and Villarenters.co.uk) will continue to operate.

“Following the cessation of the television services, the company will focus on these assets and the removal of loss making television activities will allow investment in these businesses to accelerate,” says Teletext’s Group Managing Director, Mike Stewart.

The network of individually profitable travel sites, established by Teletext in recent times, currently account for almost 40% of the company’s revenue and show excellent growth potential.

“We investigated and researched every means to keep the news service going, but in the end we couldn’t find a viable option,” says Stewart.

“The continued fragmentation of television audiences and the boom in online use for news, information and commercial services, have contributed to a significant reduction in Teletext’s viewing figures over recent years.

“In turn the volume of commercial activity generated by this part of the business has fallen sharply, with revenue declining by 50% since 2003. As a result Teletext’s television services have been loss making for the last three years.”

Teletext says that the decline in the financial performance of the television services is attributable, in part, to the government’s small allocation of broadcast capacity for the public teletext service in the 1996 Broadcating Act.

The group had to purchase extra capacity in order to deliver a competitive and comprehensive public service.

“The cost associated with doing this rendered the economics of service provision marginal at best,” Stewart added.

In addition, Ofcom recently indicated that they were not persuaded of the need for public intervention in the delivery of a public teletext service beyond 2014. This has also contributed significantly to the decision to discontinue the service.

Teletext’s television services have been in operation since 1993.

Stewart confirmed that there will be a ‘regrettable’ reduction in staffing levels resulting from this action and consultations with employees are underway.

The BBC recently poached Teletext marketer Ash Makkar to oversee marketing for BBC2, 4 and BBC Knowledge

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