BBC Red Button
|This article relies on references to primary sources. (January 2011)|
|BBC Red Button|
BBC Red Button Homepage with BBCi branding.
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|Original channel||BBC (digital)
(via Red button)
|Original run||23 September 1999– present|
BBC Red Button is a branding used for digital interactive television services provided by the BBC, and broadcast in the United Kingdom. The services replaced Ceefax, the BBC's analogue teletext service, and is only available via digital television receivers. The service can be accessed via Digital terrestrial television (DTT) (DVB-T), satellite television (DVB-S) and cable television (DVB-C). The "Red Button" branding is no longer used within the BBC's own website.
History and branding
The service was launched in September 1999 as BBC Text. It was relaunched in November 2001 under the BBCi brand and operated under this name until late 2008, when it was rebranded as BBC Red Button. The "red button" name refers to the common interface on remote controls for digital televisions and set-top boxes, a red button, which launches digital teletext services.
Although initially marketed as a spectacular new form of television, by 2008 this had given way to positioning iTV as ‘everyday’. This was due in part to the institutional landscape of television in the UK.
BBC Text (1999-2001)
BBC Text originally launched on digital terrestrial services in September 1999, and was later introduced on satellite and cable platforms. In the first phase, the service was created using content migrated from the existing analogue teletext service, Ceefax. A digital text service had been available since the launch of digital terrestrial television in November 1998, but the BBC Text service was not publicly launched until November 1999, due to a lack of availability of compatible set-top boxes. 
BBC Text was considerably more advanced than Ceefax, in that it offered a richer visual interface, with the possibility of photographic images and designed graphics (as opposed to Ceefax graphics which were composed of simple blocks of colour). BBC Text also enabled channel association, the ability for the user to retain their selected television channel visible in one section of the screen whilst viewing the text service, in contrast to Ceefax, which could only be viewed as a full-screen display, or as a semitransparent overlay (i.e. opaque blocks of colour on top of the television channel, with the black background now transparent; not 'translucent blocks of colour with a translucent black background') above the television picture. The original text service had no return path, this being made available in later phases.
BBC Text pioneered an early form of "on-demand" interactive television, called Enhanced TV. During the 1999 Wimbledon Championships, the BBC presented a service which allowed viewers to select a video stream of different matches, and access additional information such as player profiles, scores and interactive quizzes. Although the experimental service was publicly available, there were no digital set-top boxes or receivers available on the market which could decode the signal and the service was only presented to the public via BBC demonstrations using prototype receivers.
The BBCi brand (2001-2008)
The BBCi brand launched in November 2001 and was conceived as a cohesive multi-platform brand name for all the BBC's digital interactive services, encompassing the corporation's digital teletext, interactive television and website services. According to the BBC, the "i" in BBCi stood for "interactivity" as well as "innovation".
The various services all took on a common interface device, an "i-bar" branded with the BBCi logo, which sought to emphasise the brand across different technologies by providing similar navigation. For example, the BBC website, which had previously been called BBC Online, took on the BBCi brand from 2001, displaying an i-bar across the top of every page, offering a category-based navigation: Categories, TV, Radio, Communicate, Where I Live, A-Z Index, and a search. Similarly, BBC interactive television services all offered a horizontal i-bar along the bottom of television screens, with four colour-coded interactions linked to the four colour buttons on TV remote controls.
After three years of consistent use across different platforms, the BBC began to drop the BBCi brand gradually; on 6 May 2004, the BBC website was renamed bbc.co.uk, after the main URL used to access the site. Interactive TV services continued under the BBCi brand until late 2008.
Today, the broadcaster's online video player, the BBC iPlayer, reflects the branding legacy by retaining an i-prefix in its branding.
The BBC Red Button brand (2008-present)
From 2008, the BBC gradually began to drop the BBCi name from its digital interactive TV services also, replacing it with the name BBC Red Button. The BBCi logo continued in on-screen presentation for some time.
In November 2008, the BBC celebrated 10 years of the digital interactive TV service.
BBC Red Button is available on all digital television platforms in the UK, including digital cable through Virgin Media, IPTV through TalkTalk TV, digital satellite through Sky and Freesat and digital terrestrial television through Freeview. It is also available in Ireland through Sky. On Freeview interactivity does not permit users to submit data (such as answering questions in a quiz or requesting video on demand), as the platform does not provide a return path.
|This section's factual accuracy may be compromised due to out-of-date information. (February 2012)|
Generally, BBC Red Button offers text and video based services, as well as enhanced television programmes which offer extra information, video or quizzes.
In September 2005, BBCi launched an update to the interactivity available from the BBC's Radio channels on Freeview. Originally only Radiotext was available. After the update, users could access information about the programme, schedules, news, sport and weather. From 2005, Freeview users could access the CBBC Extra video stream.
The same team behind the BBC's digital text service also launched the early incarnations of the BBC's Interactive Wimbledon and Interactive Open Golf services in 2000, which were awarded an Interactive BAFTA that year.
The News Multiscreen was removed from the digital service in October 2009, to make room for future Freeview HD broadcasts.
Here is a table of the contents of the BBC Red Button (Last updated April 2013):-
|101||News Headlines||News||Index of all stories on p104, use up and down then ok to select a story|
|102||News Index||News||Index of categories in News Section|
|104||News Stories Newsreel||News||Use left and right buttons to scroll through all stories indexed on 101, stories no longer have their own page|
|144||Index of all UK Political stories||N/A|
|160||Index of UK Regional News||N/A|
|199||Index of all sections||N/A|
|200s||Business||Business||No longer includes Loans & Home and Savings
The Savings section was removed from the Business pages in May 2012.
|555||National Lottery Results||Gambling|
|911||Retuning Your Digital TV||Help|
|2500||Loans & Home||Business|
|2510||Savings||Business||Some Savings pages were difficult to interpret between 2010 and March 2012 (inc. Internet Accounts), the headings were out of alignment with the information below them. This fault was corrected for a very brief period in March 2012. However, the entire section was removed in May 2012 and no longer appears on the Index.|
|4010||Weather||World 5 Day Forecast|
|4110–4117||UK Forecast Maps||Weather|
The service was initially compatible with ONdigital and ITV Digital boxes, though loading speeds were slower than newer Freeview boxes.
Page numbers were introduced in 2004 to aid navigation, with 3-digit page numbers matching with those of the analogue Ceefax in 2006. Pages exclusive to digital are given a four digit number.
The Teletext service from the UK commercial broadcasters had stopped supporting the old boxes in 2005. As of 2010, the ONdigital boxes only load pages 100 and 199 and some interactive services that use channel 301, if any other page is loaded it exits the service.
Usage of these boxes dwindled further as technology developed. They used "original" technology and as such were not upgradable. Following each regional changeover to full digital TV broadcasting, the remaining units are no longer of use, as they do not support the '8K-mode' for DVB-T introduced across the UK as part of the 'digital switchover'.
- MHEG 5 Programming Language for Freeview
- OpenTV C-based programming Language for digital satellite
- BBC Online
- Bennett, James (2008). "'Your Window-on-the-World' : The Emergence of Red-Button Interactive Television in the UK". Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies 14 (2): 161.
- "Digital Broadcasting – BBC R&D Annual Review 1999–2000". BBC Research & Development. 2000. pp. 49–50. Retrieved 13 December 2008.
- "BBCi heralds new interactive era". BBC News. 7 November 2001. Retrieved 2 October 2008.
- "What is BBCi?". BBC. 15 December 2002. Archived from the original on 15 December 2001. Retrieved 2 October 2008.
- Gibson, Owen (12 November 2001). "A fresh i for BBC". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 October 2008.
- "What is BBCi? – On the web". BBC. 15 December 2002. Archived from the original on 15 December 2001. Retrieved 2 October 2008.
- "BBC website gets new look and new name: bbc.co.uk". BBC Press Office. 4 May 2004. Retrieved 30 September 2008.
- "BBC's Red Button celebrates its 10th anniversary". BBC Press Office. 6 November 2008. Retrieved 13 November 2008.
- BBC – The Editors: Closing the News Multiscreen Pete Clifton. BBC News Online. 20 October 2009