BBC reverses decision to end Red Button text services


Some people without online access still use red button services, via their TV remote control
Some people without online access still use red button services, via their TV remote control

The BBC has reversed its decision to bring an end to its Red Button TV text services.

The corporation had planned to remove the service due to “financial pressure”.

However, following a campaign on behalf of people with disabilities, the elderly and those without online access, it has suspended the plan.

Basic key news services will now remain, although the platform will be reduced from next year.

‘Extensive dialogue’

In November 2019, the BBC announced its intention to remove the text and data element of the red button service.

But in January, the corporation halted the planned closure, in order to learn about the potential impact on certain parts of its audience.

“Since then, we have been in contact and had extensive dialogue with a wide range of representative groups to build on our existing research into what elements of the service are most used and valued by different groups,” wrote Dan Taylor-Watt, director of product for BBC iPlayer and BBC Sounds, in a BBC blog.

The BBC has hit the back button on its red button decision
The BBC has hit the back button on its red button decision

“We have listened to this feedback – and I’m pleased to let you know that we have found a way to keep the most valued text and data elements of the red button service.”

“I would like to thank everyone who has got in touch to let us know what they value about the red button text service – and hope you continue enjoying using it,” he added.

‘Cost and complexity’

Local, national and international news will now remain on the red button, along with the sports news headlines, fixtures and results; and weather forecast.

Yet from mid-2021, features like the lottery results and in-depth sport stories,

Extraneous images draw attention from text, reducing comprehension in beginning readers — ScienceDaily


Reading is the gateway for learning, but one-third of elementary school students in the United States do not read at grade level. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University are exploring how the design of reading materials affects literacy development. They find that an overly busy page with extraneous images can draw the reader’s attention away from the text, resulting in lower understanding of content.

The results of the study are available in the September issue of the journal npj Science of Learning.

“Learning to read is hard work for many kids,” said Anna Fisher, associate professor of psychology and senior author on the paper.

The typical design of books for beginning readers often include engaging and colorful illustrations to help define the characters and setting of the story, offer context for the text and motivate young readers. Fisher and Cassondra Eng, a doctoral candidate in CMU’s Department of Psychology and first author on the paper, hypothesized that the extraneous images may draw the reader’s eyes away from the text and disrupt the focus necessary to understand the story.

The researchers sought to understand how to support young readers and optimize their experience as they become more fluent readers. In the study, 60 first- and second-grade students from the greater Pittsburgh area were asked to read from a commercially available book designed for reading practice in this age group. Half of the book consisted of the published design and the other half was streamlined, having removed the extraneous images. Each child read from the same book. The team used a portable eye-tracker to monitor the number of times the child’s gaze shifted away from the text to images on the page.

To develop the streamlined version of the book, the researchers had a group of adults identify relevant images to the text.