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The broadcaster has published the winning numbers of the Lotto and the Euromillions on its red button text service for decades. But it has now been ditched in a major blow to pensioners and disabled people who do not use the internet or smartphones – coming just months after free TV licences for most over 75s were scrapped.
The service, which has announced the lottery results twice a week on Wednesday and Saturday nights for the past 20 years, ended this Wednesday.
Rosalind Hanks, from Cornwall, has been using the service to check her husband’s lucky numbers every week since he died seven years ago.
The 74-year-old, who is in a wheelchair, said: “My late husband used the same numbers ever since the lottery started.
“He always said they were going to win and my husband did not lie, so I know the numbers will come up one day.
“I went to check the numbers this morning, and it said the BBC no longer covers the national lottery results but these can be found by visiting the national lottery website.
“I could be a millionaire and I do not know about it.”
Brenda Beech, 78, of Walsall, West Midlands, said: “I could not believe it when I tried to check the results on Wednesday night and the numbers were no longer there.
“Many senior citizens who do not have internet access or smartphones rely on the red button text service for the results, especially now there is another lockdown.
“What is particularly galling is that the BBC has taken one of our few remaining pleasures away, while at the same time making those of us over 75 pay for our TV licence.”
Katie Irons, of Tamworth, Staffs, added: “I am furious, I am pensioner, I have a husband who is 85, who checks the horses results and the lottery, what are we going to do now?”
The National Federation of the Blind of the UK (NFBUK) is demanding new director-general Tim Davie brings back the lottery results.
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NFBUK Campaign coordinator, Sarah Gayton, said: “We are hoping Tim Davie does a swift u-turn of this decision.
“This must be one of the easiest and quickest pages to update on the teletext service, and one that so many people rely on to see if they have won the jackpot.
“With the new lockdown it is imperative Tim goes back and relooks at this decision, as many people will be housebound again and it is essential they can access these results.
“This is a very simple positive thing Tim can do to help many people get through this pandemic.”
In a statement, the BBC said the lottery results were dropped “to enable the continuation of the most valued text and data elements of the service”.
A spokesman insisted the move was announced in September as part of major changes to the red button text service.
He added: “As part of this, we outlined the fact we could keep most valued text and data elements of the red button service.
“This means you will continue to be able to access local, national and international news headlines and stories, main sport headlines and stories, sport fixtures and results, as well as weather forecasts.
“However, to enable the continuation of the most valued text and data elements of the service, we are having to find ways to reduce cost and complexity elsewhere.
“This will mean we will be no longer be providing lottery results or English regional sport pages and individual sports’ headlines, besides football and those on the main sport pages, from mid-2021, via the red button.
“Lottery results were removed from the service on Wednesday.
“They are however broadcast every Saturday night on ITV and STV.”
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