The writing’s on the screen


Local, national and international information at your fingertips

CHANNEL Television’s Oracle teletext service has grown rapidly, along with its audience, and is today the model for the future expansion of local teletext services in Britain and around the world.

From editorial offices at the Television Centre in St Helier, pages of news and information are updated from 7.00 am to 7.00 pm on weekdays and at various times over the weekend, with a reporter always on call to handle newsflashes. An average of 250 local pages are available to the teletext viewer each day.

In addition, Britain’s smallest ITV contractor has led the way in providing a number of unique teletext services. The installation of a microcomputer at the Jersey Airport Met Office enables forecasters to update weather pages, including a full shipping forecast for local waters and the adjacent French coast, anytime TV is being transmitted, with updates every few hours from 6.00 am to midnight.

A direct computer-to-computer link gives viewers instantaneous access to details of flight arrivals and departures at Jersey Airport, the value of which has been proved time and time again, and especially during the periods of poor visibility experienced early this summer.

Local sports results, children’s birthday greetings, traffic information, a full what’s on and events guide, farming news and a rapidly growing classified advertising section are also available.

There’s a daily update of local companies’ share prices, recipes, job vacancies and details of lost or stolen credit cards and motor vehicles notified by local Police Forces immediately a loss or theft is reported.

Channel’s Oracle has also provided local election results input direct from the polling stations where votes have been counted, with results displayed immediately they are announced.

The success of Channel’s Oracle output is reflected in the number of teletext sets in the islands — latest surveys indicate more than one in four homes have a teletext receiver — and in the growing number of advertisers, including major banks and finance houses using Oracle in the Channel Islands.

Surprisingly there are still those who are confused by the ’jargon’ bandied about to describe this exciting British invention which is finding new uses every day, all around the world.

Teletext is a system of broadcasting printed information over the air-waves on to your television screen in the form of ‘pages’ of text and simple drawings. The Independent Broadcasting Authority was the first to develop the service in 1972 and called their system ORACLE (which stands for Optional Reception of Announcements by Coded Line Electronics).

Oracle began public broadcasting in 1977, with Channel’s local service starting in 1982. Teletext broadcasting signals are transmitted ‘piggy-back’ alongside ordinary television programme signals. A television picture is made up of 625 horizontal lines of which about 25 are not used. Oracle uses a number of these spare lines to transmit teletext on ITV and Channel 4. To receive teletext, viewers need a television set with a teletext decoding circuit specially built-in. After that the service is entirely free to use. It’s your Channel Islands newspaper, or magazine, on the screen.

Oracle has often been described as ‘the news and information medium of the future’. It’s a future that has clearly already arrived.


The Lee Barnard Collection in the Transdiffusion Archives

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