HOLYROOD GAELIC CONVENER DEFENDS MEDIA FUNDING
Thursday, 26 November 2015 18:15
Angus MacDonald calls for UK Government to abandon plans to remove cash for Gaelic broadcasting
The MSP for Falkirk East and Convener of Holyrood’s Cross-Party Group on Gaelic, Angus MacDonald, has today called on the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to abandon plans to remove all UK Government funding for Gaelic broadcasting. The punitive funding cuts were announced yesterday in the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement.
BBC Alba currently receives annual funding of £1 million from DCMS, in addition to the £12.8 million provided by the Scottish Government. However, it was announced in the Autumn Statement that the UK Government’s funding will be reduced to no financial support whatsoever.
Commenting, Mr. MacDonald - pictured above and below on a recent visit to the BBC Alba studio facility in Stornoway, with veteran broadcaster Kenneth MacIver and MG Alba's Marketing Manager Murdo Morrison respectively - said, “The decision to remove all UK Government funding for Gaelic broadcasting in Scotland will come as a major blow to BBC Alba and is yet another sign that Scotland is under-served by the public service broadcasting status quo.
“BBC Alba serves an audience of 700,000 people across the country – far outstripping the number of Gaelic speakers in Scotland several times over. It is no surprise so many people are watching when they are producing high-class documentaries, quality dramas like Bannan – the first Gaelic drama made by the BBC for decades – and are providing coverage of Scottish rugby and football.
“While the BBC is a world-renowned broadcaster, it is currently under-serving Scotland. TV licence payers in Scotland pay in £335 million ever year – but just £35 million is spent on Scottish TV production.
“People will rightly ask why the UK Government is cutting funding for a successful public sector broadcaster in the midst of the BBC Charter Review. They should abandon these misguided plans, which will be detrimental to the development of the language and the Scottish creative sector."
Mr. MacDonald has also submitted a parliamentary motion undergirding this contention, which he anticipates will receive widespread cross-party support. The text of the motion reads:
UK Government’s Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) must abandon plans to remove Gaelic TV cash
That the Parliament condemns the decision by the UK Government’s Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to remove all UK Government funding for Gaelic broadcasting; understands the £1 million of funding from DCMS for Gaelic TV channel BBC Alba helps contribute to the production of quality dramas like Bannan – the first Gaelic drama made by the BBC for decades as well as coverage of Scottish rugby and football; notes that BBC Alba serves an audience of 700,000 people across the country – far outstripping the number of Gaelic speakers in Scotland; believes that such a move will be detrimental to the development of the Gaelic language and the Scottish creative sector; further believes that while the BBC is a world-renowned broadcaster, it is currently under-serving Scotland with TV licence payers in Scotland paying in £335 million annually with just £35 million spent on Scottish TV production; further understands that the level of BBC Licence Fee income allocated to BBC Alba and Radio nan Gàidheal is considerably less than that currently allocated by the BBC to other UK minority language services in Wales and Northern Ireland; believes MG Alba and BBC Alba should receive appropriate funding from UK Government and the BBC, as well as the Scottish Government; and calls on DCMS to abandon plans to remove funding for what it believes is a major asset to the Gaelic language and Scotland’s culture.