Sunday, 29 November 2009

BBC Alba and Freeview

The BBC's Gaelic language channel, BBC Alba, has been on air for a year now. Unfortunately, it is only available on satellite and some cable providers. There has been a sustained campaign to get the channel on Freeview. The BBC Trust has responded with a consultation, in which everybody can participate.

I can't say that I am impressed with the BBC's offer to remove BBC radiostations from Freeview to make way for BBC Alba. Looking at Freeview, there are quite a number of stations on there that will not really be missed. I am not prepared to state my opinion on any individual broadcaster on an open Internet blog. Rather than that, I feel that the BBC should choose to remove one TV channel from Freeview, if only during the hours that BBC Alba transmits (17.30 to 23.30 each evening).

I leave it to each individual reader to participate (or not) and make their own views known.


  1. The present quantity of Gaelic programmes is surely adequate.
    To allocate space on Freeview channels might please a few people, but don't forget the areas of the country currently poorly served by Digital Freeview or satellite transmissions who have little prospect of better reception when the switch over to full digital transmissions is complete. Our options to view are already curtailed.
    Added to poor, or no, reception the block headed stubborness of Scottish ITV deprives viewers over the whole of Scotland of some top rate ITV 1 programmes available to the rest of the UK, filling in resulting gaps in schedules with indifferent films, poor quality history and anything else to hand providing it carries a made in Scotland label or theme.
    The prospect of watching some poor quality stuff on Scottish ITV sends many of us to our limited range of Freechannels, so the news that our escape may be further curtailed by a Gaelic take over of a Free View channel from 1700 hours to 23.30 hours 5 days a week and from 1600 hrs at weekends is rather depressing.

    We, in Scotland, should concentrate our undoubted creative and academic talents on producing more work that speaks to a much wider audience, not just to a minority of Gaelic speakers. I occasionally listen/watch Gaelic programmes on BBC 2 simply because of the musicality of the language. I do not understand a word and there are so many other languages I should like to master before contemplating Gaelic. For me, at least, the present limited exposure is quite sufficient.
    What is your goal? To try to get everyone in Scotland to speak Gaelic? Or 50%? Or 25% of the population? To what purpose?
    Will your proposals impact nationally on the general standard of literacy or creative initiative? I can't see that happening.
    However, thank you for inviting comments.
    Pamela Petrie (Mrs)

  2. Pamela,
    I appreciate your considered comments. In reply, I can say that I do not speak Gaelic myself. I feel that the language is an aspect of a culture that is unique within Scotland, the UK and beyond which deserves a measure of support that it was deprived of for decades if not centuries. Here in the Western Isles, 70% of people speak Gaelic, and the availability of BBC Alba via a satellite broadcaster only is seen as deficient. I do not agree with the suggestion from the BBC Trust that BBC Radio channels should be axed in favour of Alba; there are quite a few broadcasters being relayed on Freeview that we can do very well without for 6 or even 24 hours a day.