Freeview future for BBC ALBA delayed

THE BBC is reporting that its own governing body – the BBC Trust – has delayed a decision on whether to make the Gaelic channel BBC Alba more widely available, on Freeview.

Currently, BBC Alba is available only on satellite.

Says reporter, Jamie McIvor, on the BBC website: “MG Alba, which runs the channel in partnership with the BBC, said it was disappointed.

“The BBC had proposed putting the channel on Freeview in Scotland – but this would mean that many BBC radio stations would not have been available through this system between 1700 and 2300 GMT each evening.”

He continues: “The stations would still be broadcast on FM and digital radio as usual. But the BBC’s wider strategy review includes questions over exactly what ‘universality of access’ to services should mean in future – in other words whether services need to be available through several different means, or just available to those who have chosen a particular method.”

He quotes a statement from the BBC Trust, saying: “One of the main considerations for the trust’s review of BBC Alba has been the question of whether the service should be made available on Freeview.

“To do this could mean removing 13 of the BBC’s UK-wide network radio stations from digital terrestrial television in Scotland at times when the channel is broadcasting.

“The issue of universality is therefore directly relevant to the question of BBC Alba’s availability in the future. Until the trust reaches a view on what universality should mean for the BBC as a whole, it would not be appropriate to take a decision on BBC Alba.”