Practically Extinct small

Pre-WWW television information services broadcast within the TV signal that allowed a degree of search and retrieval of up-to-date information, based on TeleText or ViewData technologies and variants.

Group: Sound & Vision

Trend: no change

Consensus Decision

Added to List: 2017

Last update: 2019

Previous category: Practically Extinct

Imminence of Action

Action is recommended within three years, detailed assessment within 12 months

Significance of Loss

The loss of tools, data or services within this group would impact on many people and sectors.

Effort to Preserve

It would require a major effort to prevent losses in this group, such as the development of new preservation tools or techniques.


AerTel; Electra; MetroText; Antiope-based systems; Ceefax; TeleText

‘Critically Endangered’ in the Presence of Good Practice

Captured within on-air broadcast recordings; active research and recovery programme

2019 Review

A number of important developments have been reported since this entry was made in 2017 which give hope that collections can be recovered and re-used under certain circumstances.  Live-capture of broadcast output at the BBC and British Film Institute embed the signals that can be assembled to access the teletext content.  Methods to recover such signals have been demonstrated meaning that, where the appropriate broadcast archive exists the signal can be recovered.  It is not yet fully clear how such a signal could be made searchable or made available at scale. Nonetheless research is progressing on how this may be made possible.  Consequently, this entry is now progressing towards improvement, provided the different threads of active research can be brought together in a timely manner.

Additional Jury Comments

From a cultural studies point of view, it's a huge loss: an important source of information about news and social mores of the time.

There is progress to report on this entry, meaning that elements of the problem have been resolved?

Major national agencies have collections of off-air recorded television on videotape carriers, which are likely to contain the teletext data. Few if any have undertaken substantial extraction and preservation of the teletext in its own right, although many have digitised videotape carriers to digital file formats which are now under preservation. An active teletext enthusiast community has developed and has created programmatic solutions to the extraction of the teletext from the video files, and emulation of teletext display. A next step could be a collaboration between the official agencies and the enthusiast community to develop a systematic programme to extract teletext from off-air recordings for both preservation and access via emulation.

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