10th January 2010
Comunn na Gàidhlig (CnaG) has urged all Scots with an interest in the Gaelic language to make their views on BBC ALBA known to the BBC Trust, which is currently looking at how well the Gaelic channel is performing and whether to make the channel available to more people by putting it on Freeview (it is currently only available via satellite and limited cable suppliers). CnaG also wishes to remind people that the closing date for responses to the BBC ALBA Review is 18th January.
Donald MacNeill, who has recently taken up post as Chief Executive of Comunn na Gàidhlig said, “BBC ALBA, which was established to serve Gaelic speakers, those learning the language, those that might wish to learn, and those interested in the language and culture has been a fantastic success and enjoyed by all viewers, currently estimated at 200,000 per week. The real downside to this is that the Channel is unavailable to the majority of Scots with an interest in the Gaelic language, because it is unavailable on Freeview. This is a real kick in the teeth to the many, many people who have fought for years for a Gaelic television channel to be established. We must remember that Gaelic is part of the heritage of all of Scotland, and not only the areas considered to be the traditional Gaelic heartlands, and we urge all Scots with an interest in the Gaelic language to make representations to the BBC Trust demanding that the Gaelic channel is made available on Freeview. The quality of the programmes shown to date is of the highest standard and we congratulate MG ALBA, BBC and the programme producers for this. But, this only exacerbates our frustrations that the channel is not available to all.”
In its written submission to the BBC Trust, CnaG has demanded that BBC ALBA is made available on Freeview and is given appropriate funding to enable the channel to be extended. CnaG also urges the BBC Trust to make on-screen subtitles optional. Mr MacNeill continued, “CnaG appreciates the positive benefits of subtitles to learners of the language and we applaud BBC ALBA for providing this service. However, the subtitles can be a real distraction to other viewers, and we ask the Trust to give viewers the option as to whether or not they are on-screen.”