Thursday, 16 July 2015

The Tories gunning for Gaelic in BBC review

The government's Green Paper on the BBC's future clearly has Gaelic broadcasting, and Welsh, in its sights for cuts.

Why else would the document   launched today present a comparative graphic showing the cost for producing an hour of Radio nan Gaidheal is 18.9p while the cost of an hour on mainstream BBC Radio Scotland is a third of that, at 6.5p per hour? (See page 35 of the document).

Similar figures show that BBC Alba, the Gaelic TV channel part-funded by the BBC, costs 8.3p per hour to produce, compared to BBC3, for example, at 8.1p per hour and BBC 1 at 6.5p per hour.

The reason minority language radio and television is more expensive per hour to produce is because less of it is produced.

But the graphic highlighting and the attention given to language broadcasting is a singal that the government considers that nothing is sacred when it comes to stripping costs out of the BBC.

The documents states: "Nearly two thirds of minority language speakers in the UK say that the BBC supports their language. But while the BBC and licence fee funded services are clearly an important pillar for indigenous language communities there are also challenges: audience reach has been falling across some indigenous language services over the last few years, particularly in Wales.

And these services come at a cost; cost per hour of indigenous language radio content in Scotland and Wales is considerably higher than cost per hour for English speaking content which raises concerns about value for money."

The government says it will ask "hard questions" about the size and ambition of the BBC as part of a consultation on its future. 

Clearly it intends that minority language  broadcasting should be scrutinised as it seeks a smaller and cheaper BBC. 

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