Deaf hit by end of TV subtitling service

London, England – The UK’s Teletext analog TV text service is to close next year – two years ahead of schedule, leaving large parts of the UK population without subtitling for the hard of hearing.

Associated Newspapers, which runs the service for the ITV, C4 and Five channels, had originally planned to shut the service down in 2012, when the BBC’s equivalent, Ceefax – which has been running since 1974 – will also be switched off. The company blames ‘economic conditions’ for the early shutdown.

While the UK is moving to digital terrestrial broadcasting – with viewers in some areas being able to receive digital transmissions for more than ten years – many areas of the UK still rely on analog broadcasts and are not due to receive digital broadcasts for up to three years.

This will hit deaf viewers in these areas hard as they will no longer be able to receive subtitled broadcasts.

While not hard of hearing, this reporter will be forced to speed up his plans for learning Welsh, as this area of Snowdonia isn’t due to receive digital transmissions until the end of the year and he currently relies on subtitles to translate Welsh language programming into English.

For many years, Teletext was a prime source of breaking news on terrestrial television and a popular destination for bargain hunting holidaymakers.

A Teletext spokesman said: “It is all very regrettable but it is not a sustainable model – something had to change. We investigated and researched every means to keep the news service going, but in the end we couldn’t find a viable option.”

Teletext has been making a loss for three years, with revenues down 50 percent since 2003. Some 70 jobs will be lost as a result of the closure.