Review to test whether BBC ALBA deserves Freeview slot

A REVIEWhas been launched as to whether the Gaelic language digital TV channel, BBC ALBA, should be made more widely available, from its current offering of satellite to include Freeview.

It is being carried out by the BBC Trust – which acts on behalf of the TV Licence Fee payer – as was promised when the channel was launched last year and, already, the BBC Executive is suggesting it might be made available on Freeview at the expense of its radio stations on the service.

The public are being invited to submit their views.

The review is to look at how well the channel is performing, whether the channel is achieving a wide appeal to viewers beyond existing Gaelic speakers, and whether it is contributing to the broader educational strategy for the language.

Due to cost and capacity restraints that would be incurred were BBC ALBA to be made available on Freeview, the BBC Executive has suggested finding room by removing the BBC’s radio stations from Freeview, in Scotland only, during BBC ALBA’s broadcasting hours.

The channel is currently available on Sky168 and Freesat110.

Says Jeremy Peat, BBC National Trustee for Scotland, who is leading the review for the Trust: “BBC ALBA has been popular since its launch, but we now want to see whether it is measuring up to the challenges we set it last year. We’ll be looking at how well it is bringing new speakers to the Gaelic language and what current and potential future viewers think of it as a service.

“We will also be investigating whether BBC ALBA should be on Freeview instead of the BBC’s radio stations. We want to hear what the public think and whether they want ALBA on Freeview or would prefer to keep the existing BBC radio stations.

“We’d encourage everybody who has an opinion about the service, its availability and how they’d like to see it change, to get in touch with us.”

The public consultation ends on January 18.

BBC ALBA normally broadcasts between between the hours of 5pm and 11.30pm each weekday and after 4pm at the weekend.