Tuesday, 23 March 2010

BBC Alba - not on Freeview this summer

Disappointing news from the BBC Trust that it has decided to extend the timetable for the review of BBC Alba, the Gaelic tv channel.

This means that the station will not be available on Freeview when the Western Isles, where a large part of the audience is, goes for digital switchover this summer.

The BBC Trust, as I understand it, is quite happy with the channel content and its performance since they agreed to fund the joint venture with the Gaelic broadcasting authority, MG Alba, two years ago.

What the Trust is reluctant to do is drop a number of BBC radio stations from Freeview in Scotland to make room for the Gaelic channel.

The Trust was dragged slowly and reluctantly into supporting and funding the channel in the first place. It looks like the channel will have to go through the same process again until the BBC runs out of reasons, precedents and excuses to put the channel free to air on the digibox.

Here's the statement from Alasdair Morrison, chairman of MG ALBA.

He said: “Today’s decision is disappointing as we had hoped the BBC Trust was in a position to give the go-ahead for access to Freeview now.

“The success of the channel to date has been recognised and is not a factor in today’s decision. The only outstanding issue is the question of what services need to be universally available in Scotland. We will continue to work constructively over forthcoming months with the BBC Trust and the BBC to secure access to Freeview for viewers, which is fully in line with its function as a public service channel.

“We believe that access to Freeview is supported by the vast majority of people who responded to the BBC Trust consultation, BBC management and across the political spectrum in Scotland.

“The issue of impact on other BBC services such as radio needs, in our view, to be put in context. There will be negligible impact as virtually all the radio stations will continue to be available on radio and online.”


  1. Math fhein a Thorcail! Tha Urras a' BhBC airidh air deagh chaineadh.

  2. Let me think - 9 + radio stations or 1 foreign language TV channel? hmm. Tough choice. Not.