Aertel, RTÉ's venerable teletext service, will be switched off for good on October 12th, the broadcaster has announced.
From its establishment on a pilot basis in 1986, Aertel served as a widely used, pre-internet means of accessing up-to-date information through the television. A wide variety of information, from news to sports results to cinema listings, was listed.
However, its use declined as the internet and digital television became more widely available in homes, prompting RTÉ to take the decision to pull the plug next week.
Aertel is one of the last remaining teletext services in Europe. The BBC’s version, Ceefax – which was the first in the world – shut down in 2012.
At the time of its introduction by RTÉ 37 years ago, Aertel was considered cutting-edge. Using technology developed in the 1970s, broadcasters were able to send text and simple graphics over broadcast signals, without the need for a phone connection. It was even possible to play rudimentary games.
As well as providing a wide array information at the touch of a button (although users often had to wait a minute or two for the requested page to load), the service acted as a place holder during the night when programming shut down.
Since 2019, the service has been running on a digital platform. A version is also available on the RTÉ website, although this simply links to other parts of the site.
One reason Aertel has lasted so long is until last year RTÉ was legally obliged to provide a teletext service under the Broadcasting Act 2009.
Plans were first put in place to close it down in 2019 as part of RTÉ's Strategy 2024 document. The passage of the Online Safety and Media Regulation Act 2022 finally removed the obligation to operate a teletext service.
Another factor impacting the decision is the lack of available technology to support the antiquated service. Many components need to operate teletext services are no longer manufactured.
RTÉ has said it will assist any Aertel users in finding information from other sources. Those with queries can contact the broadcaster on email@example.com or 01-2083434.