|Broadcast area||National UK|
|First airdate||mid-late 1970s|
|Closed||31 December 1992|
ORACLE (from "Optional Reception of Announcements by Coded Line Electronics") was a commercial teletext service first broadcast on the ITV network in the mid-late 1970s and later on Channel 4 in the United Kingdom, finally ending on both channels at 23:59 GMT on 31 December 1992.
It was developed and launched by a consortium backed by the Independent Broadcasting Authority at about the same time as the BBC's Ceefax service. Due to the lack of available receivers, exact launch dates have been left obscure. Receivers became popular around 1980.
ORACLE moved away from being an experimental engineering department and more towards being a content provider. Under the original plans for the ITV franchise renewal, they were to have been scrapped at the end of 1992 and the few scan lines they used given to the highest bidder. ORACLE successfully campaigned for the creation of a franchise for the teletext service on ITV and Channel 4, only to find themselves outbid by Teletext Ltd., a consortium originally comprising Associated Newspapers, Koninklijke Philips Electronics N.V. and Media Ventures International, who started broadcasting at midnight on 1 January 1993.
Oracle On View
Between 1983 and 1989 Channel 4 broadcast pages from the ORACLE service on air. Shown in 15 minute bursts, and alternating with 4-Tel On View and showings of the ETP-1 testcard, the pages were seen during the day when Channel 4 was not broadcasting actual programmes and as Channel 4's programme hours expanded Oracle On View was shown at increasingly earlier times of the day. Initially the pages shown were from one aspect of the ORACLE service and the pages with the subject matter changing every so often. However, in September 1987 Oracle on View became a news service, adopting this format at the same time that Channel 4 expanded its broadcast hours to accommodate the transfer of ITV Schools to Channel 4. Oracle On View ended when Channel 4 started broadcasting breakfast television. 4-Tel On View continued to be broadcast when Channel 4 was not on the air until Channel 4 began 24 hour transmissions at the start of 1997.
ORACLE began to disappear at 23:31:09 on 31 December 1992. This process continued until 23:55:55 when it read ORACLE Gone 1978-1992.
Because of the rivalry between the two companies, ORACLE did not carry television listings beyond its midnight closing time on New Year's Eve 1992. It merely stated "00.00 The End of Oracle, Now the Nightmare Begins".
- Park Avenue, a teletext based soap which appeared on ORACLE for several years written by Robbie Burns and Steve Regan.
- Information and screenshots of Oracle from mb21
- Debbie's Diary: "a bit like Belle de Jour but without the sauce" (The Guardian)
- A full capture of Oracle from the last day of service.