Welcome, teletext fanatics! I'll just leave this here...

Monday, 22 October 2007

Teletext as a television guide

One of, if not the centrepiece of teletext is the ability to look up television listings. This would seem a natural function, as the service is actually available on the television itself, negating the need for a paper based TV listings magazine. It is one service which has remained whilst others around it are slowly being removed.

In addition, some teletext services provide stories, news, gossip etc. in much the same way that a regular Sunday magazine supplement would, only with content updated more frequently. Ceefax used to have an extensive TV links section with recipes, calls for quiz show contestants and general information on the BBC's programmes. This is largely gone (above right), but a depleted version still exists on page 615. Teletext's TV pages (left) act as a more magazine orientated service with celebrity interviews and television-related stories. There's also a viewer's views page, a seemingly popular section considering the fact traditional teletext is in decline.

However, this isn't really that surprising as the content seen on the traditional teletext service is the same as that on Teletext's interactive television service. This, it seems, is the only thing keeping Teletext on the airwaves.

There are hundreds of television listings services online. Yahoo!'s provides links to TV clips, a function not possible on teletext. Also present are viewers' opinions. These are much more extensive than the Teletext service, the greater bandwidth allowing for more detailed discussion rather than just a sentence or two. The online format also allows for more visual representations of the television listings, such as the TV grid at Yahoo (right).

Other services, such as bleb.org and tveasy.co.uk are more straight factual services and provide a no-nonsense quick reference guide more like those listings found on teletext. It could be argued, though, that these are still more efficient than teletext's in that, since bandwidth is not at a premium, there is no need to wait for the appropriate subpage to appear. Ceefax combat this by removing old subpages from the daily listings as the programmes are shown, meaning that by the prime time slot only one or two subpages have to be navigated.

Despite their obvious benefits, the television listing can still be slightly misleading, however.