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Inspector Sands10,292 posts since 25 Aug 2004
Before 1993 things were a bit more unified with Oracle providing TV back up material for ITV shows, and subtitles being advertised as Oracle page 888.

Once the franchises changed, Teletext Ltd was a lot more separate from ITV.

Technically it was too, the service was injected at transmitter sites rather than the TV stations we weren't involved in it at all. Hence their regions didn't necessarily follow the ITV ones nor were named after them.

The 600 pages and subtitles were produced by the TV stations. They didn't all launch at the start of 1993 I think, I'm on sure of they were an afterthought. IIRC Westcountry's was one of the first but even LWT and Carlton didn't have one at launch
Markymark4,182 posts since 13 Dec 2004
Meridian (North) South Today
Before 1993 things were a bit more unified with Oracle providing TV back up material for ITV shows, and subtitles being advertised as Oracle page 888.

Once the franchises changed, Teletext Ltd was a lot more separate from ITV.

Technically it was too, the service was injected at transmitter sites rather than the TV stations we weren't involved in it at all. Hence their regions didn't necessarily follow the ITV ones nor were named after them.

The 600 pages and subtitles were produced by the TV stations. They didn't all launch at the start of 1993 I think, I'm on sure of they were an afterthought. IIRC Westcountry's was one of the first but even LWT and Carlton didn't have one at launch


No, and the 888 subtitle service was a shambles for the first few days of 1993. Oracle had provided it up until the end of 1992, but the migration over to ancillary teletext services run or commissioned by the ITV companies went rather pear shaped. I seem to recall it wasn't until early the next working week that all was sorted ?

Edit: More memories. The Teletext Ltd pages weren't just inserted at the main regional transmitters, they were rendered there too. I remember whenever Rowridge had a power glitch, Teletext pages would vanish, and slowly (over a period of 10-15 mins) reappear one by one. Someone told me the composer/inserters were fed by 28 or 56k private wire circuits
from Fulham ?
Last edited by Markymark on 31 December 2016 12:45pm
steddenm1,274 posts since 11 Oct 2004
Central (West) Midlands Today
Re subtitles on teletext.

Weren't the subtitles on the BBC originally produced by BBC Scotland? I remember their caption at the end reading "Subtitles by Callum Short, BBC Scotland - 1989", and then to BBC Broadcast, Red Bee Media and finally and currently Ericsson?

The ITV subtitles were listed as Oracle before ITFC and today Deluxe.

Channel 4's were 4-Tel before Subtext, Intelfax and BBC Broadcast/Red Bee/Ericsson.

As far as I know Channel 5 were originally 5text before going to ITFC, Red Bee and now Ericsson.

Regional subtitles on ITV were listed as ITFC South or North depending on the region apart from Channel TV who did their own, as did STV and UTV.

RTÉ on the other hand just pinched theirs from the original broadcaster. I remember watching Grease on RTÉ years ago and the subtitles read something like: "Original subtitles by BBC Scotland, edited by ITFC and retyped by RTÉ." or something along those lines.
"Stop touching Dot's pussy - you don't know where it's been!" (Honey Mitchell, EastEnders)
Neil Jones3,323 posts since 23 Dec 2001
Central (West) Midlands Today
Many of the legacy BBC subtitles from the 80s and 90s remain in use today despite now not being served from a Teletext source of sorts. You can quite often see them on older programming in regular rotation - such as Dad's Army for example. Presumably they've found a way of reusing the files for modern platforms.

They also highlight a change in the way of doing them - more modern subtitles use more of the spoken script, whereas the older ones either rephrase or use a more generic sentence of what's been spoken - again, Dad's Army's subtitles are like this where you can see Captain Mainwaring saying something yet the accompanying subtitle means the same but in different phrasing.
Inspector Sands10,292 posts since 25 Aug 2004
Presumably they've found a way of reusing the files for modern platforms.

It's more a case that the technology has had to be backward compatible. The way subtitles were inserted onto the video didn't change when digital can along, and of course for a long while the same subtitle data was going to both analogue and digital outlets of a channel.


The files themselves shouldn't really go out of date and they're fairly basic so I'd have thought not that difficult to convert if it was ever needed to. The only time they need editing is if the programme is edited or its time codes change somehow
Last edited by Inspector Sands on 31 December 2016 2:48pm
noggin11,940 posts since 26 Jun 2001
The BBC still use 'Teletext' format subtitles internally - and Sky still uses World Systems Teletext format subtitles on their platform, albeit carried over DVB.

Internally the BBC insert subtitles in WST (aka Teletext format) into the SDI/HD-SDI signals that carry them around playout areas, with them being rendered as DVB bit map subtitles for Freesat/Freeview and WST subtitles for Sky. So the format of subtitles created in the 80s are still compatible (though the physical media and file format they are stored in may have changed)
thegeek3,902 posts since 1 Jan 2002
London London
[quote="steddenm" pid="1040171"]Weren't the subtitles on the BBC originally produced by BBC Scotland?/quote]
Not all of them, but certainly some of them. Ericsson still have an Access Services department in Glasgow, just around the corner from Pacific Quay.