BBC suspends Red Button text switch-off

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Red button on remote control

The BBC has suspended the closure of its Red Button text service after protests, a day before it was due to have started being phased out.

The news comes days after a petition, organised by the National Federation of the Blind of the UK (NFBUK), was handed in to the BBC and Downing Street.

The service was due to have been closed over the next few weeks.

BBC director general Tony Hall said he would examine the concerns and make "a fresh decision" in the spring.

The NFBUK called the news "fantastic" and said it was looking forward to working with Mr Collins, the BBC and the British Deaf Association "for a better resolution".

Its petition expressed concerns that the removal of the service would "leave many people, who are already vulnerable, further isolated and marginalised from society".

'To be explored in more depth'

In a letter to Damian Collins MP, Lord Hall said the BBC had heard from organisations, MPs and members of the public about its decision to phase out the service.

"People have expressed their concern that the closure of Red Button text service could negatively affect elderly people and people with disabilities," the letter read.

"These are issues which I feels [sic] deserve to be explored in more depth... so we have decided to suspend its closure pending further work in that area."

Lord Hall said the service would continue "as close as possible to its current state for the time being".

His pledge was echoed by Matthew Postgate, the BBC's chief technology and product officer, who said the corporation would "listen carefully and with an open mind to the views which have been expressed".

He wrote on the BBC blog: "We will look at all this, along with other evidence, and make a fresh decision in the spring."

Red Button text - which enables headlines, football scores, weather and travel news to be read on TV sets - launched in 1999, taking over as Ceefax was phased out.

Last year a BBC spokesperson said the decision to close the service had not been taken lightly and that the resources that maintained it would go towards "even better internet-based services".

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