Sunday, October 18, 2015

Double your money

You will hardly be surprised to learn that MG Alba, which brings you Gaelic TV across the UK through BBC Alba, would like more BBC investment in Gaelic TV as part of a new BBC Charter. Ideally, more than twice as much as at present.

Chairperson Maggie Cunningham (ex BBC) says “We should not be downbeat about BBC ALBA given what it has achieved but with the BBC’s help, we can build for the next stage of the channel’s life and increase the number of hours of high quality programmes per week, matching the contribution made by the BBC to other platforms such as S4C in Wales.”

This is the "me-too" call from their Charter Renewal response...

On current funding, only 1.7 hours of originations per day, including News, are possible. This compares to other autochthonous language services in the UK and Ireland as follows: almost 8 hours of originations per day on the Welsh channel, S4C (S4C, 2014/15), and 5 hours of originations on the Irish language channel, TG4 (TG4, 2014). 

The lack of originations results in a high repeat rate. BBC ALBA’s current repeat rate is 73%.

In addition to an unsustainable repeat rate, this funding gap creates significant deficiencies for BBC ALBA audiences: 
• there is no weekend news available in Gaelic;
• there is a significant lack of original programming for children and young people; 
• there are gaps in comedy, entertainment and programming for learners.

1 comment:

  1. It is probably true that the BBC as a whole should invest more in BBC Alba, as their current investment (around 6-7 million) is a tiny percentage of their overall budget. However, what often goes unreported is the need to increase Gaelic content and to allow Gaelic viewers choice of switching off English subtitling, which is currently used on a "burnt in" basis, a deeply unsatisfactory policy of MG ALBA and BBC Scotland, the two channel controllers. It could be different, and a more pleasant experience could be provided to viewers. BBC Digital confirmed (by way of the BBC Trust) that English language subtitles could be optional, therefore working towards a soluton that will please everybody. At the moment, the channel suffers from an identity crisis: Gaelic speakers want it to be more Gaelic in content (whilst retaining its international perspective), and the Gaelic channel is torn between doing this and filling in the gaps not currently being addressed by BBC Scotland i.e. through English content which BBC Scotland itself should be providing. BBC Scotland needs a radical overhaul. Some feel it is time for a shake up for the Gaelic channel - There are some English info pages at if people would like an alternative perspective from the official statements which we see above. There is a broad spectrum of Gaelic learners and speakers who want positive change. It is the only Gaelic channel in the world - yet it is in danger of just becoming like any other (English) channel. Optional English language subtitles, as opposed to burnt-in, would be a simple and effective start.


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