The red button regions didn't happen until at least 2002. I don't think it lasted that long before all the regional versions started,maybe 6 months.
I can't remember what happened with UK Today, I think that ended when the red button started and from then on BBC London became the default 'sustaining' region (as it was pre-digital, albeit as South East)
The 5 regional programmes at 6:30pm were introduced on the red button on the last week of January 2002. I believe they were taken off for Wimbledon coverage that year. All of the other bulletins were replaced by London. UK Today finished the Friday before the change. All the regions appeared on satellite by June 2003.
Back to 2002 this was a promo that proceeded North West Tonight...
Yes, I remember that. Careful of course not to mention Sky by name. Sally Taylor on South Today
referred to finally being available on 'Dee Sat', which would have had almost every viewer wondering WTF she was on about !
This reminds me of the FTV card saga. When Sky Digital launched, you could buy an unsubsidised box, without a subscription package. That was fine, except you had no access to FTV encrypted services, notably the BBC, and C4 (I can't remember what the initial situation was with C5). The BBC and C4 funded an FTV
card scheme, where you could ring a helpline, and they'd send you a Sky viewing card paired to your box and postcode. Not many used the service, because of course most punters had bought their box with a subs package, so BBC and C4 were 'thrown in'. However, if you cancelled your Sky sub, (which folk did once the minimum term was up) your Sky card simply converted itself to an FTV card. No problem. Until 2003, when Sky decided to replace all viewing cards. This inconveniently coincided with the BBC going FTA on Astra 2D, and they said they would withdraw from the FTV card scheme, leaving just C4 (and C5 ?) to pay for it, which they opted not to. (ITV had never contributed to it, which is another story) . There was a flurry (of the technically savvy) of FTV card requests to the helpline before the closing date (July 31st 2003 IIRC).
There were loopholes though. One I used was a PAYV Adult channel called POUT. If you registered with them, they'd send you a viewing card, that was essentially an FTV card. Being PAYV, you didn't actually pay for their service, unless you phoned up to spend an evening watching them with a box of tissues. That card saw me through the next five years, at which point I went for Freesat