- Previously reserved capacity available for other Freeview services
The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) is to remove the requirement for Ofcom to secure the provision of a Public Teletext service.
In a Regulatory Triage Assessment, signed off by the Department on the 16th April, but made public today, the DCMS states it will "remove the requirement on Ofcom to do all it can to secure the provision of a public Teletext service by removing references to public Teletext from the Communications Act 2003", adding that "no other options are regarded as viable".
Teletext Ltd held the licence to operate a public teletext service, initially on analogue versions of ITV/STV/UTV and Channel 4/S4C, and later on digital terrestrial television service Freeview. On Freeview, Teletext Ltd was guaranteed 3% of the D3&4 digital multiplex, which carries services from Channel 3 licensees alongside Channel 4 and 5, plus S4C in Wales.
According to the DCMS document, the Teletext service was provided at a profit, but "by 2009, the service was making significant losses and Teletext Ltd announced that the service would be withdrawn.
"Ofcom found that Teletext was in breach of its licence obligations and revoked the licence on 29 January 2010. Several subsequent attempts to resurrect the service have proved unsuccessful."
The 3% of the D3&4 (PSB2) digital multiplex will be made available for other uses. Since last week, the D3&4 multiplex is broadcasting a hidden ninth stream simulcasting Film 4, indicating that the extra capacity could soon be utilised by broadcasters to transmit extra Freeview content soon.
The DCMS estimates that the 3% capacity previously reserved for Public Teletext "is likely to be worth in the region of £16 million", with any service taking over that capacity getting 98.5% population coverage.