Low Thia Khiang questions cancellation of Teletext, says many elderly affected

Low Thia Khiang questions cancellation of Teletext, says many elderly affected
Mr Low asked why Mediacorp was in "such a hurry" to terminate the teletext service before government programmes had ensured seniors were sufficiently prepared to switch to and use the alternatives.

Dr Yaacob replied that his ministry and Mediacorp had indeed received feedback, especially from the elderly, about the shutdown of Teletext. But in fact "a long list of programmes" had been rolled out "long before 2011" to help the elderly learn how to use the internet. So far about 77,000 seniors have been trained under the ongoing Silvercomm Initiative Programme.

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Here is Dr. Yaacob Ibrahim's reply in full:

Mr Low Thia Khiang: To ask the Minister for Communications and Information (a) w hat has been the usage pattern of Teletext in the last five years; (b) what is the number of users prior to its discontinuance; and (c) what assessment has been made on the impact of its discontinuance on users before the service is withdrawn.

Ms D enise Phua Lay Peng: To ask the Minister for Communications and Information whether specific action can be taken to effectively assist the elderly and less educated Teletext users to access the information they need in view of the discontinuance of this se rvice.

Dr. Yaacob Ibrahim, Minister for Communications and Information:

Madam Speaker, I thank Ms Denise Phua and Mr Low Thia Khiang for their questions on the cessation of MediaCorp's Teletext service.

Teletext was launched thirty years ago in 1983 as a commercial service . Since then, media consumption patterns have changed dramatically. T he I nternet has grown to become a key information source . Increasingly, consumers are accessing information over the Internet through a variety of devices such as smart phones, tablets , desktops, laptops , and connecte d TVs. These changes in consumption patterns and the wide availability of alternative information sources led to a significant global decline in Teletext users over the years , including in Singapore. For example, MediaCorp previously shared data from a sur vey conducted in 2011 that showed there were about 187,000 who accessed daily stock price information. This year, the number dropped by 85 per cent to about 28,000. As such, MediaCorp decided to c e ase 2 the Teletext service , as it was no longer commercially viable . MediaCorp's decision i s no different from her counterparts in other countries, such as the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand, where broadcasters have also similarly decided to shut down their Teletext services .

I understand that that s ome of the elderly population are used to getting their information on Teletext and are impacted by the cessation of the service . While the information on Teletext, such as stock prices, weather, and flight information, are readily available on the Interne t, we do recognise that some of our elderly may still find it difficult to access such information.

To help seniors learn and use technology in their daily lives, the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) runs the Silver Infocomm Initiative (SII) . This initiative can help our seniors get online, which will allow them to access the information that was previously on Teletext and more. T he Media Development Authority (MDA) ha s also been working with IDA to ensure that the SII reach es out to th e senior s that need our help, so that they can learn how to find and access such information online . Seniors , without home access to the Internet, are able to utilise 124 free web - surfing points, known as Silver Infocomm Hotspots, which have been set up at various Community Clubs, self - help group centres, Residents' Committees , and our libraries. Our Libraries also offer older Singaporeans courses and workshops on basic computing as well as how to use common mobile devices and access NLB eResources and eBoo ks. In addition, seniors can also borrow e - devices such as iPads and eReaders from selected libraries. These e -devices are accompanied by training that shows users how to use and care for the devices .

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