Highlands and Islands SNP MSP Rob Gibson is calling on the UK Government and BBC to allow the BBC's new Gaelic channel to be available to terrestrial viewers via freeview as soon as possible.
BBC Alba, which launches next week, will only be available to satellite viewers. It is not due to be put on freeview until the digital switch over (due for 2010) and that will be subject to a review from the BBC Trust.
Mr Gibson said..
"I very much welcome the launch of the Gaelic service. I wish all those involved with it the best of luck and am sure it will go onto be a success. The potential to promote the language and culture through a dedicated channel is genuinely exciting and the possibilities are vast."
"However the rather large fly in the ointment is that for around a year and a half it will only be available through satellite. Given the public money being spent on the channel and the fact that it is under the banner of BBC it strikes me as ridiculous that it will only be available to those that have private satellite rental. The fact that the appearance on freeview is subject to a review by the BBC Trust is a worry. If they do not give the go ahead then it could really stymie the development and impact that the channel could have."
"I am not entirely sure how and why this situation came about, but in the light of the Broadcasting Commission For Scotland's report which seeks more access to Scottish output for Scottish viewers, I hope that a speedy and sensible decision can be reached and that we see BBC Alba on freeview before 2010."
Copy of Motion Rob lodged in parliament
S3M-02511 Rob Gibson (Highlands and Islands) (Scottish National Party): BBC Alba - Speed Up Freeview Option— That the Parliament welcomes the launch of the BBC Alba Gaelic television channel; wishes that all those involved will make the service a success; notes the potential that it has to boost the profile of the Gaelic language while informing and entertaining people throughout the country; however also notes, with disappointment, the fact that this service is not intended to be available through Freeview until after the digital switchover and that this will be subject to a review by the BBC Trust, and calls on the UK Government and BBC to speed up this process so that the channel has the chance to be watched by Gaels and non-Gaels throughout the nation who possess a Freeview box but do not have cable nor a satellite television.