A long time ago — perhaps a year ago — my Freeview box flashed up a little notice that appears from time to time. It notifies me that new software is available to download, and it assures me that this will definitely result in an improvement in the service. Or words to that effect.
Normally, that is more or less true. But this one time the software was downloaded, and my Freeview box has not quite been the same since.
The software was for the Teletext Extra service. In essence, Teletext Extra is just a really elaborate, annoying EPG. Quite why this was required when I already had a perfectly functioning 7 day EPG is unclear.
What is clear is that I have been unable to use my Freeview box in the same way since that day. Every time the box is switched on it defaults to Teletext Extra. You then have to wrestle with the remote control just to switch this blasted EPG off. It’s as though they thought I would want to switch me television on to do something other than watch television.
Mercifully, the old default EPG is still available, so you can choose never to see the Teletext Extra service. Don’t think this gets rid of all the bloat bullshit though.
If, for instance, I dare to switch it off at the mains, the next time I want to watch television I am harassed by a new message telling me that I might as well have thrown my television off a cliff. It then switches into some kind of spooky mode in between standby and full power which makes the red light flash.
It remains in this mode for several minutes, sometimes around half an hour by my estimation, downloading crap for this rubbish EPG. The EPG that I don’t use, and have actively switched off.
In these energy-conscious times, it seems like an anachronism to actually be forced to leave my Freeview box on standby permanently. And just why does it take half an hour to download this programme information when the old default EPG managed it with no bother, with no time-consuming downloads?
Even worse, should I be committing the heinous crime of watching television at either 3am or 5am, the Freeview box displays yet another message warning me that I have 30 seconds to press the ‘quit’ button on my remote control or else it will go into the aforementioned spooky mode. Worst of all, sometimes for whatever reason it ignores my button presses, and I have mashed the quit button so much in my attempts to avoid spooky mode that it is now partially broken.
I mean, is this not just immensely stupid? Is there not a way for the box to say to itself, “Oh, it looks like my owner is watching television. I guess I had better not bombard him with messages obscuring the programme, and I had definitely better not switch myself off automatically.” Seemingly not!
The worst bit comes, though, when you want to watch television when it has already entered spooky mode. You can press the power button all you want, but there is only a small chance that it will ever bring itself out of spooky mode to allow you to watch television. You know watching television. It’s that thing that I bought the blasted box for in the first place! Even if you manage to get it to stop its spooky behaviour, chances are you will be greeted by a blank screen, so you will have to try again.
Now this is becoming big news. It seems as though I am not the only person to have experienced trouble with this Teletext Extra service. In fact, several people have reported a variety of different complaints ever since Teletext Extra began to pollute the DTT service.
Given the immensely important role DTT and Freeview has to play in the impending analogue switch off, the fact that Teletext have rolled out a service that has crippled so many boxes is rather concerning. Particularly given that I never use the Teletext Extra service, nor do I ever intend to use it in the future as I already have a completely fine EPG on my Freeview box, I do regret letting the download happen.
Having said that, I can’t even remember if I had the opportunity to refuse it. I certainly was not made aware of the nature of the download — what it was for, and the implications it would have on the functionality of my Freeview box. No doubt if I did refuse the download, I would still to this day be getting the notifications every time I switched on my Freeview box.