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Protest petition prompts BBC to pause Red Button closure

Protest petition prompts BBC to pause Red Button closure
29th January 2020 Ian Streets

The BBC has announced that it has suspended the closure of its red button text service, just before the service was due to be cancelled.

The news came shortly after a petition was handed to the BBC and Downing Street by the National Federation of the Blind of the UK (NFBUK).

The BBC first announced the closure of the red button in September, 20 years after the service was launched.

If the change goes ahead, it means that viewers will no longer be able to read information including the news headlines, football scores, weather or travel on their TVs.

Announcing the change in September, a BBC spokesperson said: “From early 2020, viewers will no longer be able to access text-based BBC News and BBC Sport content by pressing red.

“It’s always a difficult decision to reduce services, and we don’t take decisions like this lightly, but we have taken it because we have to balance the resources needed to maintain and develop this service with the need to update our systems to give people even better internet-based services.

“Viewers can still access this information on the BBC website, BBC News and Sport mobile apps – as well as 24-hour news on the BBC News channel.”

The BBC told The Mirror that the petition against the closure of the Red Button was signed by more than 100 organisations.

The NFBUK, which led the petition, said the service was “vital” for people who are not online and “who want to find out information independently in an easy, convenient and accessible format.”

The charity said it feared the withdrawal of the service “will leave many people, who are already vulnerable, further isolated and marginalised from society.”

The Mirror reported that the NFBUK reacted to the announcement by tweeting: “FANTASTIC news to hear this afternoon!”

It added that another user tweeted: “Thank you for this – my mum doesn’t have internet or a smart phone and was feeling so lost with the prospect of not being able to look up the simple things such as weather or her tennis results.”

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