When local baker Sarah Gayton brought to my attention that the BBC Red Button Service was set to be removed I stepped up the lobbying to save this service.
The Red Button Service is used by many people without access to the internet to see the latest news, sports results and other updates, it is popular with the blind community and so I was pleased to see the National Federation for the Blind UK as it replaced teletext. I was pleased to see their huge support for the campaign.
However many others also use the service, from those with dementia, elderly people, those with special educational needs, people who are hard of hearing and those simply wanting to catch up because they missed the headlines.
The BBC intended to cut back on the service as many people now have internet access to catch up and so taking the service away could save them money, however it is clear not everybody has access to a computer or mobile phone with internet.
For months I lobbied the BBC and the Department for Culture Media and Sport for action on this issue. The campaign became particularly important once the Covid19 pandemic hit in and people more than ever needed easy access to news information. The BBC agreed to keep the service during the March-April lockdown period with a review to continue afterwards. With public support and local stories, we kept the campaign going, reminding Lord Hall who was BBC director at the time just how important this service is to so many residents in and living near Tamworth. Lord Hall was replaced by new director Tim Davie in September.
Numerous reviews took place, information was gathered and thankfully a whole plethora of residents were happy to share their views and how they use the BBC Red Button Service with me. This was passed on to the BBC who made a final decision in October 2020 to maintain the service.
While not all of the features will remain in place, the new BBC Director Tim Davie has confirmed to me that key features such as news, sports and special live event coverage will stay accessible through the Red Button Service. I will continue to press to try and make this even more accessible, for instance with text to speech, different colour backgrounds and options to make text larger.
It is great the BBC listened to local residents and pleasing this campaign had a positive outcome!
Thank you to everyone who helped make this a success.